Michael Schumacher is considered to be one of the best drivers in Formula One history. The “Red Baron” or “Schumey” was driving in karts when he was just a child, and he never looked back. Throughout his illustrious career, Schumacher holds just about every scoring record in Formula One history. The German driver, among his many achievements, managed to win the F1 World championship seven times.
Since so many drivers were inspired by Schumacher’s greatness, we decided to take a look back and see what he was able to accomplish during his incredibl career.
He Won His First Race When He Was Six Years Old
Schumacher was born in Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany to Rolf and Elisabeth Schumacher. When Michael was four years old, his father modified his pedal kart by adding a small motorcycle engine.
His parents would eventually take him to the karting track at Kerpen-Horrem, where he became the youngest member of the karting club. Rolf continued to help his son by building a kart from discarded parts. After assembling his son’s kart, Michael won his first club championship.
His Younger Brother Is A Formula 1 Racer Too
Michael’s younger brother Ralf has also competed in Formula One. For the younger Schumacher, his racing career paled in comparison to his older brother. Ralf had trouble controlling his speed in certain race conditions, resulting in unnecessary incidents on the track.
In 2001, he won his first Grand Prix race en route to a fourth-place finish in the Drivers’ Championship. He won five more races over the course of two years.
His Kids Are Just As Competitive
His daughter, Gina-Maria, has displayed impressive horse riding skills. In August of 2017, Schumacher’s daughter competed at the FEI World Reining Championships in Switzerland, taking home the gold medal. Gina also continued to compete later at the NRHA European Derby in France.
Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher is following in his father’s footsteps. Mick is driving in the European Formula Three championship for Prema Powerteam.
Schumacher Obtained A License Before He Was The Legal Age
To keep his karting success afloat, Schumacher needed a karting license. Unfortunately, the rules in Germany wouldn’t allow him to obtain the license because the minimum age was 14.
The aspiring racer was only 12-years-old at the time, so he headed for Luxembourg where he was of legal age for the karting license he desired. Of course, he took no time getting back in his kart after obtaining his license.
He Displayed Incredible Driving Skills Through Wet Conditions
Most drivers have a tendency to lose their edge in wet conditions on the track. For Schumacher, it was the exact opposite. The German showed that he was a master of wet conditions.
His incredible driving skills ultimately earned him the nicknames “Regenmeister” which means rain master, and “Regenkonig” which means rain king. He knew that in wet conditions, the type of equipment on the kart didn’t matter as much as the heart of the driver.
He Withdrew From His First Formula One Race
In 1991, Schumacher made his debut with the Jordan-Ford team at the Belgian Grand Prix. Driving car number 32, he was a replacement for Bertrand Gachot, who was imprisoned for bodily harm against a taxi driver.
Schumacher would find some success after he qualified in the seventh position. Unfortunately, he was forced to withdraw during the first lap after his car suffered problems with the clutch. But, not all was lost for the Hürth native.
Schumacher’s First Championship Title Was Dedicated To A Late Driver
Not long after his 1991 debut, Schumacher was aiming for the World Championship title. It would take the German almost three years to finally achieve the goal of winning his first World Championship in Formula 1.
Despite winning the title, 1994 was best-known as a year of tragedies when drivers Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died in separate accidents. Schumacher, after winning the championship, dedicated it to Senna, his late friend and inspiration.
His Biggest Rival Was Jacques Villeneuve
The German and Canadian drivers were complete opposites. The rivalry between the two began in 1997 when the latter drove for Williams Grand Prix Engineering. Williams was struggling that season, and Schumacher and his team Ferrari took advantage.
Years later, Villeneuve made it plainly obvious that he wasn’t a fan of the 1994 World Champion. The driver made a remark to The Guardian saying that Schumacher would be forgotten the day he hangs up his helmet.
Villeneuve Was The Reason Why Schumacher Was Disqualified From A Race
Schumacher was impressive on the track, but was sometimes questioned for his professional ethics. This takes us to the 1997 European Grand Prix at Jerez, the last race of the season. The 1995 World Champion held a one-point advantage over Villeneuve.
On the 48th lap, Schumacher reportedly hit his rival’s car as he passed. Due to this action, he was disqualified from the Driver’s Championship, an incident the German instantly regretted.
In 2001, He Broke A Record
Despite the controversy at the 1997 European Grand Prix, Schumacher would bounce back. Four years after the incident, he won his fourth World Championship by a landslide. The German managed to defend the title as early as the Budapest Grand Prix with four races left in the season.
That same year, Schumacher tied Alain Prost’s 51 Grand Prix wins. During the next race at the Belgian Grand Prix, Schumacher set the new record for victories.
He Helped Invent An Ultra-Strong Helmet
Winning wasn’t the only thing that mattered for the now four-time World Champion. Schumacher’s care for racing safety prompted him to help invent a helmet with Schubert. Together, the racer and German safety helmet company developed a helmet known as the RF 1.5.
The lightweight helmet was released in 2004 and it offered an impressive level of cooling while maintaining aerodynamic stability. Aside from that, the helmet was proven to be tough after a battle tank ran over it.
In 2004, He Set Another Record
In that year, Schumacher took home his fifth consecutive and seventh World Championship. The legendary driver achieved eight pole positions, 10 fastest laps, 15 podium positions, and 12 grand prix victories during the season.
With 148 points to his name, he was well above other racers in the standings, even his closest rivals. He was 34 points ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello, surpassing his best of 11 wins from the 2002 season.
He Was Named The Second Highest Paid Athlete
In 2004, Schumacher earned a reported and jaw dropping $80 million. Forbes magazine ranked Schumacher 17th in its “World’s Most Powerful Celebrities” list. A significant amount of his income came from advertising, and not from his winnings.
For instance, Deutsche Vermögensberatung paid the driver $8 million over three years starting in 1999 to wear their advertisement on his post-race cap. In 2010, his personal fortune was estimated to be around £515 million.
He Has Another Nickname
Thanks to all of the things Schumacher has done over the course of his career, the driver was given the name “The Red Baron” by fans.
At first, the title belonged to Manfed von Richtofen, a fighter pilot for Germany during World War One. He was notorious for having the most kills in the sky, shooting down more than 80 enemy aircrafts. Meanwhile, Schumacher was notorious for scoring victories on the track in every race.
Racing Wasn’t The Only Sport He Played
The legendary driver took the time to pursue other sports. One of his main hobbies was horseback riding. In addition, he played football for his local team FC Echichens. He also organized and participated in charity football games, while organizing games between Formula One drivers.
In 2007, the racer completed 28 laps at an impressively quick pace on a DucatiGP bike. Schumacher loved going fast, and getting on a motorcycle provided him a new way to do that.
He Was Voted The Most Popular Formula One Driver
In a report from Booms Beat, the seven-time World Champion was awarded the title in 2006. His successes in the sport since his debut in 1991 has guaranteed that every serious racing fan knows his name. His popularity was significant to the point where young Germans saw him as a role model.
2006 was another great year for the Formula One racer. He earned 12 podium positions, seven grand prix wins, seven fastest laps, and four pole positions.
He Retired For The First Time In 2006
2006 was a year that was bittersweet for many Formula One fans and especially for Ferrari racing team fans because Schumacher decided to pack it in at the end of the season.
Schumacher knew that racecar driving was taking a toll based on his energy, motivation, and strength. He didn’t think he could go another year of racing. From his website, he said, “I’m still competitive now, but what about the next few years?”
After Retiring He Still Worked For Ferrari
Despite choosing to leave the Ferrari cockpit, it didn’t mean he was leaving the Formula One world altogether. The legendary driver continued to work for his team after hanging up his racing helmet.
Schumacher was given the special role of acting as a Ferrari consultant. Wearing the team’s headset, he would listen to everything happening on the track. In his new role, Schumacher would proudly serve with the company for the next three years.
It Looked Like He Was Going To Return In 2009
It briefly looked like Schumacher was going to make a surprise comeback with Ferrari. He was present at the Hungarian Grand Prix when driver Felipe Massa was seriously injured when he was struck by a suspension spring during qualifying.
When a replacement was named for the Brazilian driver, it was Schumacher. In the end, the legendary racer was forced to call off the return due to the severity of the neck injury he received in a motorcycle accident.
His Return To Racing Wasn’t So Great
Over the next three years, something happened; Schumacher wanted back in Formula One. His decision may have been motivated by his desire to work with technical director Ross Brawn once again.
He signed a three-year contract with the same team in 2010, setting the racing world on fire with what he was planning to accomplish. Unfortunately, he managed to score just a single podium finish during the three years, then retired for good in 2012.
He Is The Oldest Driver To Achieve A Podium Finish
Schumacher finished third at the European Grand Prix in 2012. He was 43-years-old. The accomplishment made him the oldest driver to earn a podium finish since the 1970 British Grad Prix, when Jack Brabham did it.
Further records were set by the German by Scumacher. He raced the quickest lap in a Grand Prix for the 77th time. He also became the second driver in history to race in 300 Grand Prixs.
In 2013, He Suffered A Devastating Accident
Schumacher suffered a horrific accident when he took a spill on the French Alps while skiing, and suffered severe head trauma. According to sources, the seven-time World Champion hit one of the exposed rocks in the area, then lost control of his trajectory.
Even his safety releases on his skis reportedly failed to deploy the moment he hit the rocks. After two life stabilizing operations, Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma.
He Was Airlifted To Grenoble Hospital
If Schumacher wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of his accident, doctors said he would have died. During his time at Grenoble Hospital, he underwent two surgical operations. Despite being placed into a coma, his doctors reported he was in stable condition despite having a traumatic brain injury.
On April 4, 2014, Schumacher finally regained consciousness and left the hospital for rehabilitation at the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He Was Able To Be Moved To A Rehabilitation Ward
By mid-June 2014, Schumacher was stable and healthy enough to be moved into a rehabilitation ward from intensive care. By September, he had left CHUV and was brought back to his home for more rehabilitation. Two months later, The Telegraph released an update on the iconic driver.
It was said that Schumacher was paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Also, he couldn’t speak and had memory problems. But, he had opened his eyes and had some interaction, albeit minimal.
He Was Improving 17 Months After The Accident
In 2015, a little over a year after his horrific crash in the French Alps, the legendary driver was making progress. However, a full recovery would take a lot of hard work, according to his manager, Sabine Kehm.
In a video conference with The Gospel Herald, Khem described that Schumacher’s condition was improving, which is better than stable. However, it would take several months before obvious improvements could be seen in Schumacher.
Meanwhile, His Family Is Getting By Just Fine
Right after the accident, Schumacher’s wife, Corinna, handled everything. For example, she sold some of their properties. There were speculations that this is due to the increasing cost of Schumacher’s medical needs, but it was the luxurious things that would no longer be used in the future.
Many are looking at their son and daughter to see what their future holds. Instead of drowning themselves into an unfortunate reality, they’re doing their best to be role models in their respective sports.
His Health And Gratitude For Michael’s Fans
The former Formula One champion’s manager has said that Schumacher’s health will remain closely guarded amongst the family. From The Telegraph, Sabine Kehm said in a statement: “We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere.”
Kehm also announced that the family was launching a “Keep Fighting Initiative” as a sign of gratitude to fans.
A Reason Behind The Privacy
The reason for such privacy from the family could be due to how Schumacher liked his own privacy. His manager described him as “faithful, reliable, dutiful, and fact-driven” but also a “complex human being.”
It’s understood that the legendary driver is receiving 24-hour medical care at his home at an estimated cost of $28,000 a week. The Daily Mail claimed in December of 2018 that Schumacher is “not bedridden or surviving on tubes.”
The Ferrari Museum Is Planning Something Special
Schumacher, who remains the sport’s most successful driver even to this day, enthused a legion of fans in his career. The Ferrari museum in Maranello, Italy, will be opening a special exhibition about Schumacher on his birthday. The exhibit will only last a few months and will showcase his greatest accomplishments.
In addition, Mercedes, the last team Schumacher drove for, will honor him too. They will have some of his cars on his display at their museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
The F1 Legend’s Family Has Urged Fans To Celebrate His 50th Birthday
Schumacher’s family issued a rare public statement on the eve of his 50th birthday. They thanked fans and well-wishers for their continued support. From the statement on the official Schumacher Facebook page, they believe his birthday should be a celebration of everything he achieved and how much he enjoyed being alive.
The family also announced the launch of The Michael Schumacher App, a virtual museum of the driver’s overwhelming achievements during his amazing career.