Michael Schumacher. Perhaps one of the most distinguished names in sport, let alone Formula 1. You know who he is. You know what he did. You know the legacy he left behind. The undisputed king of F1.
Dressed from head to toe in red and arrogance oozing from within. Those were the glory days. The days when Schumacher was a household name, headlining newspapers internationally every fortnight, rewriting the record books. Make that how you remember him; though angel, he was not.
Schumacher had a presence. Similar to Ayrton Senna in that respect. That if you were to challenge his position, you must be prepared to face the consequences. Because in his mind ‘winners never quit and quitters never win.’
A cold-blooded risk taker whose only ambition was to win. Dangerous, yes. Ruthless, yes. But, did it work? Absolutely.
Seven times world champion, two with Benetton, five with Ferrari but all with Technical Director Ross Brawn. An unrivalled partnership that led the pair to 91 race wins and a staggering 155 podiums. Together they became the reference point, the benchmark, if you will.
Televised sport has a somewhat need for over-dramatising incidents. To be pantomime-esque and provide a talking point. The need for a good guy and a bad guy. Schumacher was the worst guy, getting under the skin of all other competitors and making it very apparent that he was not to be trifled with. Every action had an excuse yet nothing ever took away his determination.
Strip it all down and what’s left is a human being inspired by success, taking to the extreme to ensure he gets it. That time you cheated at Heads Down Thumbs Up staring at the person’s shoes, that’s your inner-competitiveness shining through. When football players dive in the penalty box. It’s an adrenaline boost so uncontrollable and so unethical, yet the gain is bigger than the loss.
Away from the racetrack, is a different story. After the tsunami’s that struck Asia in 2005, he donated $10m to Relief Aid. He founded ICM, the brain and spine institute and is an ambassador for the FIA’s Action for Road Safety and UNESCO amongst others.
Cheating is not what defines Michael Schumacher. It is a part of who he was inside the helmet. But there are multiple sides to a dice. One time it may be a split-second misjudgement, the next a purposeful manoeuvre and so on. The unpredictable driving style. The win-at-all-costs mentality. That’s what defines Schumacher. Let the statistics do the talking and the driving colour your screens.
Take him or leave him. He’s the villain you can’t help but love and admire.
Do take out eleven minutes of your time to watch this fan-made video. Tissues at the ready… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EQYimzsaW0