MICHAEL SCHUMACHER BIOGRAPHY


Michael Schumacher born 3 January 1969 in Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia is a Formula One racing driver currently driving for Mercedes GP. Most famous for his eleven-year spell with Ferrari, Schumacher is a seven-time World Champion and according to the official Formula One website is "statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen"; he holds many of the formula's driver records including most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions, points scored and most races won in a single season – 13 in 2004. In 2002 he became the only driver in Formula One history to finish in the top three in every race. After beginning with go-karts Schumacher won German drivers' championships in Formula König and Formula Three before joining Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship. After one Mercedes-funded race for the Jordan Formula One team Schumacher signed as a driver for the Benetton Formula One team in 1991. After winning consecutive championships with Benetton in 1994/5, Schumacher moved to Ferrari in 1996 and won another five consecutive drivers' titles with them from 2000–2004. Schumacher retired from Formula One driving in 2006 staying with Ferrari as an advisor. Schumacher agreed to return for Ferrari part-way through 2009, as cover for the badly injured Felipe Massa, but was prevented by a neck injury. He later signed a 3-year contract to drive for the new Mercedes GP team starting in 2010. His career has not been without controversy, including being twice involved in collisions in the final race of a season that determined the outcome of the world championship, with Damon Hill in 1994 in Adelaide, and with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 in Jerez. Off the track Schumacher is an ambassador for UNESCO and a spokesman for driver safety. He has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts throughout his life and donated tens of millions of dollars to charity. Michael and his younger brother Ralf Schumacher are the only brothers to win races in Formula One, and they were the first brothers to finish 1st and 2nd in the same race, in Montreal in 2001, and there again (in switched order) in 20. Schumacher was born in Hürth-Hermülheim, West Germany, to Rolf Schumacher, a bricklayer, and his wife Elisabeth. When Schumacher was four, his father modified his pedal kart by adding a small motorcycle engine. When Schumacher crashed it into a lamp post in Kerpen, his parents took him to the karting track at Kerpen-Horrem, where he became the youngest member of the karting club. His father soon built him a kart from discarded parts and at the age of six Schumacher won his first club championship. To support his son's racing, Rolf Schumacher took on a second job renting and repairing karts, while his wife worked at the track's canteen. Nevertheless, when Schumacher needed a new engine costing 800 DM, his parents were unable to afford it; Michael was able to continue racing with support from local businessmen. Regulations in Germany require a driver to be at least 14 years old to obtain a kart license. To get around this, Schumacher obtained a license in Luxembourg at the age of 12. In 1983, he obtained his German license, a year after he won the German Junior Kart Championship. From 1984 on, Schumacher won many German and European kart championships. He joined Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert in 1985 and by 1987 he was the German and European kart champion, then he quit school and began working as a mechanic. In 1988 he made his first step into single-seat car racing by participating in the German Formula Ford and Formula König series, winning the latter. In 1989, Schumacher signed with Willi Weber's WTS Formula Three team. Funded by Weber, he competed in the German Formula 3 series, winning the title in 1990. At the end of 1990, along with his Formula 3 rivals Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, he joined the Mercedes junior racing programme in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. This was unusual for a young driver: most of Schumacher's contemporaries would compete in Formula 3000 on the way to Formula One. However, Weber advised Schumacher that being exposed to professional press conferences and driving powerful cars in long distance races would help his career. In the 1990 World Sportscar Championship season, Schumacher won the season finale at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in a Sauber–Mercedes C11, and finished fifth in the drivers' championship despite only driving in 3 of the 9 races. He continued with the team in the 1991 World Sportscar Championship season, winning again at the final race of the season at Autopolis in Japan with a Sauber–Mercedes-Benz C291, leading to a ninth place finish in the drivers championship. He also competed at Le Mans during that season, finishing 5th in a car shared with Karl Wendlinger and Fritz Kreutzpointner. In 1991, he competed in one race in the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship, finishing second.




Schumacher was noted throughout his career for his ability to produce fast laps at crucial moments in a race, to push his car to the very limit for sustained periods. Motor sport author Christopher Hilton observed in 2003 that "A measure of a driver's capabilities is his performance in wet races, because the most delicate car control and sensitivity are needed", and noted that like other great drivers, Schumacher's record in wet conditions shows very few mistakes: up to the end of the 2003 season, Schumacher won 17 of the 30 races in wet conditions he contested. Some of Schumacher's best performances occurred in such conditions, earning him the nicknames "Regenkönig" (rain king) or "Regenmeister" (rain master)., even in the non-German language media. He is known as "the Red Baron", because of his red Ferrari and in reference to the German Manfred von Richthofen, the famous flying ace of World War I. Schumacher's nicknames include "Schumi", "Schuey" and "Schu". Schumacher is often credited with popularising Formula One in Germany, where it was formerly considered a fringe sport. When Schumacher retired in 2006, three of the top ten drivers were German, more than any other nationality and more than have ever been present in Formula One history. Younger German drivers, such as Sebastian Vettel, felt Schumacher was key in their becoming Formula One drivers. In the latter part of his Formula One career, and as one of the senior drivers, Schumacher was the president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. In a 2006 FIA survey, Michael Schumacher was voted the most popular driver of the season among Formula One fans.Schumacher made his Formula One debut with the Jordan–Ford team at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, driving car number 32 as a replacement for the imprisoned Bertrand Gachot. Schumacher, still a contracted Mercedes driver, was signed by Eddie Jordan after Mercedes paid Jordan $150,000 for his debut. The week before the race, Schumacher impressed Jordan designer Gary Anderson and team manager Trevor Foster during a test drive at Silverstone. His manager Willi Weber assured Jordan that Schumacher knew the challenging Spa track well, although in fact he had only seen it as a spectator. During the race weekend, team-mate Andrea de Cesaris was meant to show Schumacher the circuit but was held up with contract negotiations. Schumacher then learned the track on his own, by cycling around the track on a fold-up bike he had brought with him. He impressed the paddock by qualifying seventh in this race. This matched the team's season-best grid position, and out-qualified 11-year veteran de Cesaris. Motorsport journalist Joe Saward reported that after qualifying "clumps of German journalists were talking about 'the best talent since Stefan Bellof'". Schumacher retired on the first lap of the race with clutch problems. After his debut, and despite Jordan's signed agreement in principle with Schumacher's Mercedes management for the remainder of the season, Schumacher was signed by Benetton–Ford for the following race. Jordan applied for an injunction in the UK courts to prevent Schumacher driving for Benetton, but lost the case as they had not yet signed a contract. Schumacher finished the 1991 season with four points out of six races. His best finish was fifth in his second race, the Italian Grand Prix, in which he finished ahead of his team-mate and three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet. At the start of the 1992 season the Sauber team, planning their Formula One debut with Mercedes backing for the following year, invoked a clause in Schumacher's contract which stated that if Mercedes entered Formula One, Schumacher would drive for them. It was eventually agreed that Schumacher would stay with Benetton, Peter Sauber said that "[Schumacher] didn't want to drive for us. Why would I have forced him?". The year was dominated by the Williams of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese, featuring powerful Renault engines, semi-automatic gearboxes and active suspension to control the car's ride height. In the 'conventional' Benetton B192 Schumacher took his place on the podium for the first time, finishing third in the Mexican Grand Prix. He went on to take his first victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, in a wet race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which by 2003 he would call "far and away my favourite track". He finished third in the Drivers' Championship in 1992 with 53 points, three points behind runner-up Patrese. The Williams of Damon Hill and Alain Prost also dominated the 1993 season. Benetton introduced their own active suspension and traction control early in the season, last of the frontrunning teams to do so. Schumacher won one race, the Portuguese Grand Prix where he beat Prost, and had nine podium finishes, but retired in seven of the other 15 races. He finished the season in fourth, with 52 points.


Michael Schumacher is The Legend

In 1996, Schumacher joined Ferrari for a salary of $50 million over 2 years, a team which had last won the Drivers' Championship with Jody Scheckter in 1979 and which had not won the Constructors' Cup since 1983 with drivers René Arnoux and Patrick Tambay at the wheel. He left Benetton a year before his contract with them expired; he later cited the team's damaging actions in 1994 as his reason for opting out of his deal. A year later, ex-Benetton employees Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn, who had been Technical Director at Benetton since 1991, and who was one of the key members behind Schumacher's title successes with the team in 1994 and 1995, decided to join Schumacher at Ferrari. This increased Schumacher's motivation to build a more experienced and potentially championship-winning team around him. Ferrari had previously come close to the championship in 1982 and 1990. The team had suffered a disastrous downturn in the early 1990s, partially as their famous V12 engine was no longer competitive against the smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient V10s of their competitors. Various drivers, notably Alain Prost, had given the vehicles labels such as "truck", "pig", and "accident waiting to happen". The poor performance of the Ferrari pit crews was considered a running joke. At the end of 1995, though the team had improved into a solid competitor, it was still considered inferior to front-running teams such as Benetton and Williams. Schumacher declared the Ferrari 412T good enough to win the Championship. Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and Jean Todt (hired in 1993), have been credited as turning this once struggling team into the most successful team in Formula One history. Three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart believes the transformation of the Ferrari team was Schumacher's greatest feat. Eddie Irvine also joined the team, moving from Jordan. On 23 December 2009 it was announced Schumacher would be returning to Formula One in the 2010 season alongside fellow German driver Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes GP team. On 16 November Mercedes had taken over the Brawn GP team which was their first majority involvement in an F1 team since 1955. Schumacher stated that his preparations to replace the injured Massa for Ferrari had initiated a renewed interest in F1 which, combined with the opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition to drive for Mercedes and to be working again with team principal Ross Brawn, led Schumacher to accept the offer once he was passed fit. After a period of intensive training medical tests confirmed that the neck injury that had prevented him driving for Ferrari the year before had fully healed. Ross Brawn had contacted Schumacher over a potential return to F1 with Mercedes involvement in November 2009, seeking a substitute for the possibly outgoing driver Jenson Button. On 2 November Rubens Barrichello had left Brawn GP followed by Button on 18 November with Rosberg announced by Mercedes as the first replacement driver on 23 November. The possible return of Schumacher began being reported in the German press on 13 December and, ten days later, Mercedes confirmed Schumacher's return completing their line-up. Schumacher signed a three year contract, reportedly worth £20m, with Mercedes who were thought to want 22-year-old German driver Sebastian Vettel as a long term replacement afterwards. In March 2010, The Daily Mail reported that Schumacher's deal was closer to £21m (€24m, $32m) a year. Schumacher's surprise re-entry to the sport was compared to Niki Lauda's return in 1982 aged 33 and Nigel Mansell's return in 1994 at age 41. Schumacher turned 41 on 3 January 2010 and his prospects with Mercedes were compared with the record set by the oldest F1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio who was 46 when he won his fifth championship. Schumacher, in conjunction with Schuberth, helped develop the first lightweight carbon helmet. In 2004, a prototype was publicly tested by being driven over by a tank; it survived intact. The helmet keeps the driver cool by funneling directed airflow through fifty holes. Schumacher's original helmet sported the colours of the German flag and his sponsor's decals. On the top was a blue circle with white astroids. After Schumacher joined Ferrari a prancing horse was added on the back. From the 2000 Monaco Grand Prix, in order to differentiate his colours from new teammate Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher changed the upper blue colour and some of the white areas to red. He sported one-off helmet designs three times. For the 1998 Japanese Grand Prix, a title decider with Mika Häkkinen, he replaced the German flag with a chequered flag motif and reflective silver replacing the white areas. At the 2004 Italian Grand Prix the German flag design was replaced with an Italian flag in honour of his team's home race. For Brazilian Grand Prix race of 2006 (at the time intended to be his final Grand Prix), he wore a special helmet that included the names of his ninety-one Grand Prix victories. Schumacher has been honoured many times during his career. In April 2002, for his contributions to sport and his contributions in raising awareness of child education, he was named as one of the UNESCO Champions for sport, joining the other eight which include Pelé, Serhiy Bubka and Justine Henin. He won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award twice, in 2002 and 2004 for his performances in the 2001 and 2003 seasons respectively. He has also received nominations for the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 awards. No-one has been nominated more times than Schumacher in the award's seven-year history. In honour of Schumacher's racing career and his efforts to improve safety and the sport, he was awarded an FIA Gold Medal for Motor Sport in 2006. In 2007, in recognition of his contribution to Formula One racing, the Nürburgring racing track renamed turns 8 and 9 (the Audi and Shell Kurves) as the Schumacher S, and a month later he presented A1 Team Germany with the A1 World Cup at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2007 awards ceremony. He was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport for 2007, which he won both for sporting prowess and for his humanitarian record. In 2008 the Swiss Football Association appointed Schumacher as the Swiss ambassador for the 2008 European football championship. On 30 April 2010, Schumacher was honored with the Officier of Légion d'honneur title from French prime minister François Fillon.

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