ICON Legends – Michael Schumacher – Formula One superstar

ICON Legends Tuesday January 9, 2024 By: Harry Howes

Formula One is currently enjoying one of it’s greatest eras ever, with Max Verstappen literally racing away with his third consecutive title last year. But despite his dominance, Verstappen still has a long way to go before he can be compared to Michael Schumacher.

The German was simply unstoppable at his peak and he paved the way for the drivers of the modern era, so it’s only right that he takes his place among our line-up of ICON Legends.

The greatest of all time?

Lewis Hamilton may have something to say about that but the Brit undoubtedly grew up dreaming of one day emulating the great Schumacher. The pair are currently tied at the top of the all-time Drivers’ Championship standings, with seven titles each.

Five of Schumacher’s championships came in consecutive years at the turn of the century, with few able to offer adequate competition. Racing was in the blood as his father ran a local karting track in Cologne back in Germany, while his son Mick Schumacher has also raced in F1.

Schumacher and his brother, Ralf, first started racing there and never looked back as they both became professional drivers. In fact, they remain the only siblings to have both won Formula One races and they have finished in first and second place on five different occasions.

New kid on the block

Having started out in karting, Schumacher made his F1 debut with Jordan in 1991 before quickly signing with Benetton. He didn’t take long to get to grips with the circuit and he won his first race the following year at Spa.

After a steady few seasons, Schumacher showed he meant business as he claimed his first title in 1994, although in controversial circumstances as he collided with rival Damon Hill in the final race, which retired them both.

However, there were no complaints a year later as Schumacher dominated the track, winning the championship by a landslide. His success earned him a move to Ferrari and although he struggled initially, going four years without a title, he managed to take it to the final race twice.

Early noughties dominance

If Ferrari were beginning to have doubts about their decision to snap up Schumacher, they needn’t have worried. The new millennium sparked a new era for Formula One as he dominated the sport, winning five consecutive championships between 2000 and 2004.

Schumacher still holds the record for the most titles in a row and he was the driving force behind Ferrari claiming the Constructors’ Championship in six successive seasons. He’s also still the record holder for the highest number of fastest laps, having achieved 77 at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.

In 2002, Schumacher finished the season with almost double the amount of points that second-placed Rubens Barrichello achieved. That year, he finished on the podium in every single race, winning 11 of them, and wrapped up the title with six races to spare.

Return and life after F1

Following his five successive triumphs, Michael Schumacher finished third and then second before deciding to hang up his helmet in 2006. But the lure of the track proved too much and he stepped out of retirement to join forces with Mercedes in 2010.

Schumacher’s decision raised eyebrows throughout the world of racing, with few believing that he’d be at the same level as before. Unsurprisingly, his shock U-turn didn’t turn out to be the fairytale return that he’d hoped for as he finished 9th, 8th and 13th before finally calling it a day.

Sadly, following his second retirement, Schumacher suffered a serious brain injury after falling while skiing and he was put into an induced coma for several months. Thankfully, he survived but he has remained incredibly private since the accident.

The outpouring of love and respect from global sports fans for Schumacher at the time was phenomenal and is testament to how highly regarded he is both as a person and as a sportsman.

Hamilton has often suggested that he doesn’t plan on retiring until he achieves one more title to edge ahead of Schumacher in the standings. However, considering the form that Verstappen has shown in recent years, that doesn’t look like happening any time soon.

But whether Hamilton surpasses him or not, there’s no denying that Michael Schumacher is among the greatest drivers of all time and is fully deserving of his spot in our ICON hall of fame.

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