Schumacher celebrates taking third in Valencia 2012, his final ever F1 podium

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GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #2 - Michael Schumacher

GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #2 - Michael Schumacher

13-03-2020 19:00

Hello and welcome back to what would have been just two days to go until the Australian Grand Prix got us underway for the 2020 season. Coronavirus has prevented what could’ve been a great start to the season, but here on our countdown of the top 50 F1 drivers of all time will continue. Yesterday in third was the legendary Jim Clark, but our runner-up is Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher is statistically F1’s greatest ever driver. He has more wins and more championships than anyone else, and is also the only man to win five titles on the bounce.

He made his debut for Jordan at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, impressing everyone by qualifying seventh. The race ended in early retirement but the potential was clear to see.

Benetton snapped him up for the final five races of the season and he scored points in three of them. The deal was permanent in 1992 and Schumacher showed enormous ability, regularly appearing on the podium and getting his first race win in Belgium.

The 1993 Benetton was unreliable and hampered his title challenge, but he managed to finish on the podium every time he saw the chequered flag, taking the second win of his career in Italy.

1994 shaped up to be a battle between Schumacher and Williams’ Ayrton Senna, but after Senna’s death at round three, Damon Hill took up the challenge of the German.

Schumacher had an early championship lead but Hill caught up and the pair both had a chance of glory at the final race of the season in Adelaide. Schumacher was leading but made a mistake, hitting a wall and allowing Hill to catch.

The Brit went for a move and Schumacher turned in on him and following the resulting collision, both retired and Schumacher took the crown.

1995 was an easier ride for Schumacher as he won nine races to cruise to a second title.  He then made the brave move to leave Benetton and join Ferrari, who hadn’t won a title since 1979.

He did win three times with the Italian team, but was way behind Williams pair Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. Hill left Williams at the end of the season and 1997 was a straight fight between Schumacher and Villeneuve.

It went down to the final race again, and in a similar incident to 1994, Schumacher turned into Villeneuve as the Canadian went for the lead. It didn’t work for the Ferrari man though, as he did more damage to himself than Villeneuve and lost out on the title. To make it even worse, he was disqualified from the championship after.

In 1998 he was level with McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen with two rounds left, but the Finn took both races to take the title. Schumacher was out for revenge in 1999 but broke his leg in a crash at Silverstone, allowing Hakkinen to pip Schumacher’s teammate Eddie Irvine to the title.

2000 was the catalyst for Schumacher’s era of dominance. He trailed Hakkinen following the Belgian GP, but won the final four races of the season to win his third title and Ferrari’s first for 21 years

2001 saw a cruise to the title and 2002 saw one of F1’s most incredible statistics. Schumacher finished on the podium at every single event and in the top two in all bar the Malaysian GP.

He had to work harder for 2003’s championship as Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya pushed him all the way, but Raikkonen could only finish second at the final race in Japan, giving Schumacher the title by one point.

In 2004 he crushed the field, winning 12 of the first 13 races, taking the championship with four rounds to go. This made it five titles on the bounce and seven in total, a quite ridiculous number.

In 2005 he was only able to take one win, the farcical US GP where only six cars ran. Schumacher and Ferrari returned better in 2006, as he announced his retirement mid season.

Going into the final race he still had a chance to take the title from Fernando Alonso, but P4 wasn’t enough and Schumacher left the sport with P2 from that season.

In 2010 he made a return with Mercedes, originally struggling, but by 2012 he was showing some of his old magic. Fastest in Monaco qualifying, a grid penalty prevented him from taking pole, and then one final podium in Valencia saw him bow out of the sport for good.

After a 2013 skiing accident, Schumacher is not seen in public and his condition is unknown, but everyone at GPBlog urges him to keep fighting and hopefully we can see him in the F1 paddock again soon.

Schumacher changed the game for F1. His determination and obsession with winning made him a serial competitor, and whilst Lewis Hamilton is edging closer to his records, Schumacher will always remain among the kings of Formula 1.

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