F1: Michael Schumacher’s 10 greatest drives
On Dec. 29, 2013, seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher was severely injured in a skiing crash in the French Alps. Since then, very little news about the condition of the German has emerged, other than he is in a stable, non-life threatening condition and is currently undergoing medical attention in his home in Switzerland.
Schumacher is statistically the most successful Formula One driver of all time, yet many attribute that – with justification at times – to being in the right car at the right time.
However, one doesn’t become a seven-time champion without a few spectacular drives. There were several to choose from but, in the end, here’s what we listed as 10 of Michael Schumacher’s finest races:
10: 2006 Brazilian GP
Michael Schumacher had a shot to win eight World Championships in Formula One though – granted – it was unlikely. The German had lost out to Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the fight for the 2005 title and looked set to lose out to him again after his engine had let go at the Japanese GP. Unfortunately, in his final race for Ferrari and what was – at the time – expected to be his final race in F1, Schumacher cut down a tire early on in the race and had to limp back to the pits. He almost fell a lap down in doing so but was able to rally back up to fourth place – just 24 seconds behind the winner – when the checkered flag fell. It was a stunning drive but not quite enough, and Alonso took the title.
9: 1995 European GP
Schumacher was known for excelling well in races that were ran in the wet or – in this case – mixed conditions. The 1995 European GP – held at the Nurburgring – had started off in the wet, but had gradually began to dry out. Ferrari driver Jean Alesi fitted the right tires onto his car at the right time, leaving Schumacher (and the rest of the field) 30 seconds behind. However, the Benetton driver got down to work and clawed that time back, making a daring move on Alesi with 2 to go for the win.
8: 2004 French GP
The Circuit de Magny-Cours has a very short pit road, which worked to Schumacher’s advantage at the 2004 French GP. Fernando Alonso was leading late on the going in the Renault, and it seemed the only way Schumacher was going to get by was by playing the strategy card. The Ferrari-driver was well-known for being able to put on hot laps with very low fuel loads, and so that’s when the team decided to switch him over to an unprecedented four-stop strategy. The gamble paid off and Schumacher took the win.
7: 1994 Spanish GP:
Michael Schumacher looked set to win the 1994 Grand Prix in Spain, but things began to fall apart early on when his gearbox jammed up in fifth. Damon Hill went on by and on to take victory, but Schumacher was somehow able to drive the car all the way to the end in fifth gear, even throughout the course of pit stops where he struggled just to keep the car running. The Benetton driver came home with a second-place finish.
6: 1998 Hungarain GP:
Schumacher was aided by gremlins on Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren to win the 1998 Hungarian GP, but it was still a fantastic drive. The German had been racing the McLarens of Hakkinen and Coulthard all race long, but now found himself just in front of them but with an extra pit stop still to go. Schumacher put the pedal down and was able to build up enough of a gap – partially thanks to the aforementioned shock absorber problem on Hakkinen’s car – to pit and come out again with the lead and the win.
5: 1997 Belgian GP:
Schumacher made it clear throughout his career that Spa was his favorite track, and there were numerous impressive drives from him that demonstrated that. One of his better ones was the 1997 Belgian GP – which was held in the wet. Schumacher passed the cars in front early on after the field had started behind the Safety Car and had built up a lead of about 40 seconds within five laps. Game over.
4: 1997 Monaco GP:
In a similar situation to the 1997 Belgian GP, Schumacher and his Ferrari simply humiliated the field in damp conditions on the streets of Monaco, going on to win by 53 seconds while a demolition derby erupted behind him.
3: 1992 Belgian GP:
Schumacher returned to Spa-Francorchamps just one year after making his Formula One debut at the same circuit. In that race, he had retired with a mechanical failure from seventh on the grid on the opening lap. This year, he redeemed himself, and logged his first of 91 wins in damp conditions that went dry. Racing for Benetton, It was the only win that was not in a Williams or a McLaren during the ’92 season.
2: 1995 Belgian GP:
One of the more entertaining races on this list came when Schumacher started 16th on the grid following a crash during qualifying at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The German engaged in a lively mid-race battle with Williams’ driver Damon Hill … and ran off, which gave Hill the position. However, Schumacher came in to change tires right when conditions were changing which was enough for him to leapfrog Hill and take a famous victory.
1: 1996 Spanish GP:
Ferrari was not always the powerhouse in Formula One that it is now and, before Schumacher came to the team in 1996, they had been struggling. However, the 1996 Spanish GP – which was held in appalling conditions – gave us a demonstration of what Schumacher and Ferrari could do: dominate. The German pulled away from the field at around 2 seconds a lap through the rain-soaked circuit and got his first win for Ferrari by 45 seconds – lapping up to third place.
Click HERE for a gallery of moments from Michael Schumacher’s racing career.