Michael Schumacher, a German former racing driver who raced for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, and Mercedes in Formula One, was born on January 3, 1969.
Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have a combined seven World Drivers’ Championship titles, and at the time of his retirement in 2012, he held the records for the most wins (91), pole positions (68), and podium finishes (155); he also holds the records for the fastest laps (77) and the most races won in a single season (13), among others.
Schumacher was known for his ability to push his car to the absolute limit for long stretches of time during races, as well as his pioneering fitness routine and ability to rally teams around him.
He and his younger brother Ralf are the first siblings to win races in Formula One. Schumacher was a long-term admirer in humanitarian projects and has donated tens of millions of dollars to charity as an advocate for UNESCO.
Michael Schumacher’s early life
When Schumacher was four years old, his father added a little motorbike engine to his pedal kart. After crashing into a lamppost in Kerpen, Michael’s parents took him to the Kerpen-Horrem karting circuit, where he became the club’s youngest member.
In Germany, a kart license must be obtained by a driver who is at least 14 years old. To get around this, Schumacher got his driver’s license in Luxembourg when he was 12 years old.
He got his German license in 1983, a year after winning the German Junior Kart Championship. In 1985, Schumacher began working for Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert, and by 1987, he had won the German and European kart championships.
He subsequently dropped out of school and went to work as a technician. He made his debut in single-seat vehicle racing in 1988, winning the German Formula Ford and Formula König series.
He joined the Mercedes junior racing program in the World Sportscar Championship in 1990, alongside his Formula Three competitors Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger. In the 1991 World Sportscar Championship season, he continued with the team, winning the final race of the season at Autopolis in Japan with a Sauber–Mercedes-Benz C291, finishing eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Schumacher is credited with popularizing Formula One in Germany, where it had previously been regarded as a niche sport. Three of the top ten drivers in the Drivers’ standings were Germans when Schumacher retired in 2006, more than any other country.
Younger German drivers, including as Sebastian Vettel, believed Schumacher was essential in their progression to Formula One. Vettel declared Schumacher to be the best Formula One driver of all time in 2020. Schumacher served as president of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association for much of his Formula One career.
Schumacher later stated that he will be racing in Formula Once again, but not for Ferrari, after whetting his thirst for a comeback. Instead, in 2010, he joined the new Mercedes team. Because Schumacher was undecided about continuing in Formula One, Mercedes signed Lewis Hamilton for 2013, allowing him to make a much-anticipated return to retirement.
In Brazil, he signed off with final points finish, symbolically pulling over for his countryman and successor Sebastian Vettel, who was on his way to his third world title.
The accident that almost ended Schumacher’s life
On December 29, 2013, Schumacher and his 14-year-old son Mick were skiing on the slopes above Méribel in the French Alps when they were involved in a catastrophic ski accident. Despite wearing a ski helmet, he fell and banged his head on a rock while crossing an off-piste section, sustaining a significant head injury.
Doctors stated he would have perished if he hadn’t been wearing his safety equipment, so the world champion was flown to Grenoble Hospital. Schumacher underwent two procedures right away. He was put into a medically induced coma after sustaining “traumatic brain damage,” according to reports.
Michael Schumacher wakes up after years of coma
Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, indicated in May 2015 that his condition was recovering slowly “given the severity of the injuries he received.”
In response to rumours in a German tabloid Die Bunte from December 2015 that Schumacher could walk again, Schumacher’s lawyer, Felix Damm, informed a German court in September 2016 that his client cannot walk. Former Ferrari boss Jean Todt said in July 2019 that Schumacher was making excellent progress but struggling to communicate.
Schumacher was also able to watch Formula One races on television at home, according to Todt. Schumacher was admitted to the Hôpital Européen Georges-Pompidou in Paris in September of that year for treatment by cardiovascular surgeon Philippe Menasché. Medical staff said that Schumacher was “awake” after the procedure, which included an anti-inflammatory stem cell perfusion.
In a Netflix documentary set to show next week, Michael Schumacher’s wife Corinna said that the former seven-time world Formula One champion is still recovering from a brain injury sustained in a skiing accident, but that he is “present but different.”
“Everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here, different, but here,” Corinna said in the documentary entitled “Schumacher”, “He still shows me how strong he is every day.”
Although Schumacher is still well-liked in the sport, his accident has had a significant impact on those closest to him.
Can Schumacher possibly make F1 comeback?
Considering his son Mick is now involved in the sport, and with his own age currently at 52, it is near impossible to imagine that Michael Schumacher will be able to make a comeback in the sport.
Recently, his record of seven World Championship crowns was matched by Lewis Hamilton, after Hamilton’s victory in the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020.
The Schumacher Family on @LewisHamilton winning his 91st GP, equalling Michael’s record: Big congrats, an impressive achievement of a great driver. We cannot deny we would have loved for Michael to hold those records, but as he always used to say: records are there to be broken. pic.twitter.com/xDRhVp5HVf— Michael Schumacher (@schumacher) October 11, 2020
Previous updates on Schumacher’s health have been scarce, and have frequently come from family friend Jean Todt, the FIA’s president, who was team principal at Ferrari when Schumacher won five championships between 2000 and 2004.
Todt, as well as Schumacher’s father Rolf and brother Ralf, feature in the film, along with other F1 legends such as Sebastian Vettel, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill, and David Coulthard.