Regarded by many as the greatest Formula One driver of all time, Michael Schumacher is a record seven-time F1 World Champion. He also holds records for the fastest laps, race victories, pole positions, as well as most races won in a single season (13). His incredible track record also includes dominating the F1 field for a whole decade between 1994 and 2004. Most sports analysts credit his triumphs with raising the popularity of F1, especially in Schumacher’s home country of Germany.
Born on January 3rd, 1969 in Hurth, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Michael Schumacher’s father Rolf was a bricklayer. At about four years old, Michael’s father appended a small motorcycle engine to a pedal kart he owned enabling the young Schumacher to drive around his locality with high speed, and often, less control. Rolf soon joined his six-year-old son in their neighborhood’s karting club on realizing that Michael was unafraid of speed. He became the club’s youngest member and soon began gaining better control on the road.
By age 12, Schumacher had already secured his first Kart Licence, going on to win Germany’s Junior Kart Championship at age 13. Shortly after, he also began winning European kart championships, becoming both the German and European kart champion in 1987. Then in 1990, he triumphed in the German Formula 3 Series. In 1990 and 1991, he took part in the World SportsCar Championships and won some races, an impressive accomplishment for the then 22-year-old. Following these achievements, Schumacher qualified for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1991 as part of the Jordan-Ford team, before later being signed by Benetton-Ford and emerging victorious at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1992. That year, he finished at number 3 in the Driver’s championships.
In 1993, Schumacher was placed 4th in the overall championships while 1994 saw him win his first Driver’s Championship when he was 25 years of age by triumphing in 8 out of 14 races. He took the crown again in 1995, beating his closest challenger by a whopping 33-point margin. This supplanted him as the best Formula One driver on the planet.
In 1996, Schumacher joined Ferrari (whose last win of the Constructor’s Team Championships was in 1979 and were therefore searching for a good racer to help them go back to their former glory), helping them finish number two the championship.
1997 saw Schumacher's disqualification from the Driver’s Championship after being found culpable of trying to intentionally cause an accident against his main competitor who was almost overtaking him and winning the title. In 1998, he placed second while in 1999 he finished fifth.
Image source: flickr.com