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F1 Icons: Michael Schumacher

Few figures have made such a mark on their sport as Michael Schumacher did on the world of F1.

After winning two world championships with Benetton in the mid 1990s, Schumacher's move to Ferrari heralded an era of unprecedented dominance which saw rule changes and a new points system brought in in an attempt to stop him. But even then the German maestro racked up a string of five straight titles from 2000 to 2004.

Schumacher was the first F1 driver to concentrate on fitness as part of his race preparation, finishing races fresh as a daisy while his rivals clambered out of their cars bathed in sweat.

Born3rd January 1969
BirthplaceHurth, West Germany
F1 debut1991 Belgian Grand Prix
Last F1 race2012 Brazilian Grand Prix
F1 titles7
F1 teams4

Michael Schumacher's early career

Unlike most young drivers, Schumacher's pre-F1 career was mainly spent in sports cars as part of the Mercedes junior racing programme.

When the Jordan team found themselves in need of a driver midway through the 1991 season, Mercedes paid team boss Eddie Jordan $150,000 to give Schumacher the seat.

On his debut in the Belgian Grand Prix at the challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Schumcaher equalled Jordan's season-best qualifying position of seventh, despite never having driven the track before, although his race would last only two corners before a clutch issue sidelined him.

Schumacher was controversially poached by Benetton before the next race, the Italian Grand Prix, where he secured his best finish of the season in fifth.

Staying with Benetton, Schumacher earned his first podium finish at the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix, the second race of the season, and picked up his first win in Belgium later that year, finishing third in the championship behind the dominant Williams cars. He collected another win the following season, in Portugal.

Michael Schumacher's championship years

Benetton produced a much-improved car for the 1994 season and Schumacher won six of the first seven races.

After being disqualified from two races and banned from three more for technical infringements, Schumacher controversially won the title at the final race in Australia after colliding with his championship rival Damon Hill, putting both cars out of the race.

The following season was much more straightforward as Schumacher won a record-equalling nine Grands Prix and finished the season 33 points ahead of Hill.

For 1996, Schumacher switched to Ferrari, who had been in the doldrums for five years, taking many of Benetton's technical team with him.

An up-and-down first season saw Schumacher collect three wins, including a masterful wet-weather drive in Spain, and the following two years would see him fight unsuccessfully for a third world title.

That looked like it may be on the cards in 1999 until Schumacher crashed at Silverstone, breaking his leg and missing most of the rest of the season.

Things finally came together in 2000, though, as Schumacher claimed eight wins including the first three of the season, and denied Mika Hakkinen a third championship of his own by 19 points.

The 2000 and 2001 seasons would see Schumacher cement his legend status with dominant victories, while in 2003 he claimed his record sixth title at the final race of the season in Japan.

A seventh and final championship arrived in the most emphatic style yet in 2004, with the German winning a record 13 races.

Michael Schumacher's latter career

Ferrrai found themselves allied with the wrong tyre manufacturer for 2005, as the Bridgestone-shod red cars proved no match for the Renault, McLaren and WIlliams machines on their Michelin rubber. 

Fernando Alonso claimed the title that year before seeing off a resurgent Schumacher in 2006, with the great German announcing his retirement at Monza that year.

After three years out of F1, Schumacher was enticed back by his junior backers Mercedes, who had bought the 2009 championship-winning Brawn team, headed up by his old Ferrari pitwall mastermind Ross Brawn.

There was to be no fairytale return, however, as this final chapter of Schumacher's career yielded a single podium finish in three years, and he finished behind his teammate Nico Rosberg in all three seasons.

Even the one pole position he claimed, in Monaco 2012, was taken off him thanks to a penalty he had picked up at the previous race. 

Michael Schumacher's F1 record

  • 1991, Jordan/Benetton, 14th
  • 1992, Benetton, 3rd, 1 win
  • 1993, Benetton, 4th, 1 win
  • 1994 Benetton, 8 wins, world champion
  • 1995, Benetton, 9 wins, world champion
  • 1996, Ferrari, 3 wins, 3rd
  • 1997, Ferrari, 5 wins, 2nd (subsequently DQ)
  • 1998, Ferrari, 6 wins, 2nd
  • 1999, Ferrari, 2 wins, 5th
  • 2000, Ferrari, 9 wins, world champion
  • 2001, Ferrari, 9 wins, world champion
  • 2002, Ferrari, 11 wins, world champion
  • 2003, Ferrari, 6 wins, world champion
  • 2004, Ferrari, 13 wins, world champion
  • 2005, Ferrari, 1 win, 3rd
  • 2006, Ferrari, 7 wins, 2nd
  • 2010, Mercedes, 9th
  • 2011, Mercedes, 8th
  • 2012, Mercedes, 13th

Michael Schumacher after retirement

Having retired from F1 for the second time after the 2012 season, Schumacher suffered a life-changing head injury while skiing in December that year and has not been seen in public since.

Schumacher's son, Mick, won the F2 championship in 2020 and raced in F1 for the Haas team in 2021 and 2022.

Michael Schumacher net worth 

Schumacher is worth a reported $600 million.

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