With it being the Belgian GP this weekend, the track where a certain German F1 legend made his incredible debut, we thought it rather fitting to run this piece by guest contributor and pro-photographer, Shivraj Gohil (@ShivyF1 on Twitter) on why Schuey is his favourite driver.
London motor show 1992, I remember my dad saying F1 cars are faster than NASCAR’s (I didn’t believe him, I had just seen Days of Thunder). There were F1 cars scattered all over the exhibition, but while most people paid attention to Williams and McLaren, one car was left on its own for people to sit in, have a poke around and kick the tyres. I was persuaded to look around the machine and I was amazed at the paint job more than anything. The car was Schumacher’s Benetton B192 and although I couldn’t pronounce his name, knowing I had sat in a car on television gave this young 9 year old enough ammunition to follow the sport and the driver.
I started watching Formula 1 in 1994, dad being an avid Senna fan, the television was always on every other Sunday afternoon with the sound of screaming V10’s. After Imola 1994, all dedication in the house diverted from Senna to Michael Schumacher.
I can recollect the conversations or should I say arguments with classmates at school throughout 1994. Growing up in London, the majority of people loved Damon Hill and completely disliked Michael Schumacher, Mondays after races were pretty heated. The season finale was just on another level, the infamous Adelaide crash pretty much made me one very happy boy, although I did stay away from the bigger Hill supporters the next day at school, who eventually got me in maths class.
Fast forward to 1996, I really didn’t like Ferrari at the time, I felt they had really let Michael down with their car and their pit crew was terrible, considering Benetton was the fastest team in 95, I never understood why he left Benetton, he was doing so well, but which 13 year old understands the concepts of contracts and money? Still, his 3 wins in 96 were pretty special, in a car which was 4th fastest on the grid, my respect and admiration for him was far greater.
97, 98, 99 were difficult years, disqualification, superior McLarens and breaking his leg didn’t do him any favours, but 2000-04 changed all that with Ferrari’s incredible domination of the sport. Many people do forget Formula 1 changed in order to stop the Schumacher/Ferrari dominance by tweaking qualifying and tyre rules, this halted Schumacher from winning anymore titles, even though a final valiant effort in 2006 almost gave him title number 8, but it was not to be.
Michael Schumacher pretty much defined 20 years of my life, I’m sure everyone has a driver or personality in Formula 1 which they will always have a soft spot for no matter how many years go by. It’s lovely to hear my parents generation reminisce about legends from Jackie Stewart to Nigel Mansell, now its our time to be nostalgic about the drivers who we grew up with, but I do feel blessed to support and witness arguably the greatest of them all.
In my eyes, Schumi had too many incredible moments , so I have listed my personal top 5
Belgium 1995 – Defending against Damon Hill in wet conditions while on slick tyres to Damon’s wet tyres….genius.
Italy 1998 – Going from 3rd to 1st in front of the Tifosi within 400 yards (I love Murray’s reaction)
Malaysia 1999 – Coming back from breaking his leg at Silverstone and being the fastest driver while holding up 2 McLarens to help his Ferrari team mate Eddie Irvine
Austria 2003 – Powersliding on the 2nd corner during qualifying only to regain lap time and get pole position, then catching fire during a pit stop only to win the race, speechless.
Brazil 2006 – Gaining a puncture in the opening laps, going from last to 4th, overtaking Raikkonen with 3 laps to go in his final race while chasing an 8th title, incredible.
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