Schumacher – A Tribute to a Great Champion
- BACKSEAT DRIVER By Manny Delos Reyes () - October 25, 2006 - 12:00am
A fairytale ending to Formula 1’s most amazingly successful career "wasn’t meant to be" after a puncture cost 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher any chance of winning on his Brazilian swansong.

The odds were stacked against the German, who needed to win the race with Alonso failing to score a point in order to add an eighth title to his astonishing collection. But the rain meister made a more than gallant attempt to defy them.

Starting from 10th after running into qualifying problems, the German was already up to 5th by lap 9 when his left rear tire burst. After stopping for new tires, he rejoined at the tail end of the pack, almost a full lap behind the race leader, team-mate Felipe Massa.

But after a typically stupendous recovery drive, he was up to 4th by the checkered flag, just 24 seconds behind the winner.

"The race was rather chaotic, I guess that’s the right word for it," Schumacher said in an interview. "We had an insanely quick car today. We probably had enough speed to lap everyone, to be honest. We almost did that in a way.

"All in all, I’d have to say it was a class finale with the car, with the speed we’ve got. But it just wasn’t meant to be for me today."

What seemingly humble and philosophical words from someone who is about to close the chapter on the most successful — the most illustrious — record in motor racing history. A record that deserves repeating, if only to appreciate the staggering improbability that someone had actually achieved it, let alone have someone else break it. Consider these Schumacher stats:

• Most world titles: 7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)

• Most consecutive titles: 5 (2000-2004)

• Most wins: 91

• Most wins in a single season: 13 (2004)

• Most consecutive wins in single season: 7 (2004)

• Most wins at the same race: 8 (French GP)

• Most wins from pole: 40

• Most wins with one team: 72

• Most pole positions: 68

• Most front-row starts: 115

• Most second place finishes: 43

• Most podium finishes: 154

• Most points scored: 1,369

• Most points finishes: 190

• Most points in a single season: 148 (from a maximum of 180, in 2004)

• Most fastest laps: 76

• Most races led: 141

• Most laps led: 5,108

• Most consecutive podiums: 19 (USA 2001-Japan 2002)

• Most consecutive points finishes: 24 (Hungary 2001-Malaysia 2003)

• Most consecutive seasons with a win: 15

• Most ‘clean sweeps’ (pole, win, fastest lap): 22

• Largest points gap between champion and runner-up: 67 (2002)

• Earliest title winner: 2002 (in July, with 6 races remaining)

• Longest spell with one team: 11 seasons (Ferrari — 1996-2006)

• Most time between first and last race wins: 14 years, 1 month and 1 day

• Never outqualified by a team-mate in 1992, 1993 or 1994

• Only driver to have finished every race on the podium: 2002

Those who have read my previous columns on Michael Schumacher know how I despised his unsportsmanlike maneuvers. But I no longer need to repeat them here. Yes, Schumi was — is — a genius. But a flawed genius. With human weaknesses.

Now, Michael Schumacher has retired from race driving. And he leaves Formula One holding almost all the records. He has taken seven drivers’ world titles and has contributed to the same number of team wins in the constructors’ championship.

He has taken part in 250 Formula One GPs (178 of them at the wheel of a Ferrari,) won 91 (72), been on pole 68 (58) times, setting 76 (53) fastest race laps. He has amassed a total of 1369 points, 1066 of them in a Ferrari. No one in the world of motor racing has done better.

The only record that will elude him is the one for the number of race starts. He has reached the 250 mark, just six short of the record held by Italian Riccardo Patrese.

Schumacher has been with Scuderia Ferrari for eleven seasons, a demonstration of unsurpassed loyalty in Formula One, to date securing five of his Drivers’ titles with the Maranello-based team and contributing to six of the team’s Constructors’ titles. No other driver has ever won as much with the Scuderia.

"I had always said that the decision to retire would be his alone, but now that decision has been taken, I feel a sense of sadness," said Ferrari President and CEO, Luca di Montezemolo.

"We have lived through some unforgettable times together, some good some bad, achieving results that will be hard to equal.

"To Michael goes the thanks of everyone in the company and supporters of Ferrari for all the dedication he has shown to our colors, for the determination and courage with which he has worked, which has provided immense satisfaction. He is both sincere and passionate and has earned the affection of all of us and of our fans.

"His relationship with Maranello will continue, albeit in a different form and I am very happy about that."

"Michael has been the author of a unique chapter in the history of Formula One and of Ferrari in particular. It has yet to reach its conclusion and what he has achieved extends over and above the results obtained," added Managing Director, Jean Todt.

"He is an exceptional man and will become a legend as a driver. For me personally, he is a great friend and together we have lived through unrepeatable experiences. Having had the opportunity to work alongside him has been and will continue to be a privilege."

"Words are not enough and whatever I could say now will never fully express how much I love this fascinating world of motorsport and all it has given me," said Michael Schumacher.

"From go-karting to Formula One, I have lived through moments that I will never forget. I am profoundly grateful for everything I have had," said the German.

The words of a true champion. And ones that help recall some of the greatest drives ever seen. Like Spa ‘95, from 16th on the grid to win, with some great wheel-to-wheel racing with Damon Hill, who was in a much faster Williams. Or with him sitting in his car, enveloped in flames, waiting for his pitcrew to do their thing — coolness, calmness and absolute confidence — and still win the 2003 Austrian GP. Or Spain in ’94, stuck in 5th gear for most of the race, but still coming in 2nd behind Hill, just a few seconds behind. Or in winning a race right after the loss of his mother, and dedicating the victory for her. Or time and again hot-footing his in and out laps — at qualifying speeds — to vault past a surprised rival in the pitstops.

Arguably Schumacher’s greatest ever win was also his first for Ferrari. And it was in torrential rain in Spain, underscoring his otherworldly skills in the wet. After dropping from 3rd to 9th at the start, the reigning champion literally stormed back up through the field and was 2nd by lap 9 before cruising past race-leader Jacques Villeneuve for the lead on lap 12. Three laps later he was 15 seconds ahead of the pack and clearly in a league of his own. His fastest race lap was a stunning 2.2 seconds quicker than anyone else. A truly brilliant drive in horrendous conditions — much like a rainy Monaco ’97, when he won by almost a minute!

And a true legend, the likes of which we may never see again. May you enjoy your well-deserved retirement, Michael. But probably not as much as your rivals will. Your magic will be sorely missed.

As expected, last week’s touchy topic drew varying reactions from many a Backseat Driver. Here are some that commented on the topic itself and others that touched on some nagging motoring related issues.


Why not make the NPD’s "no helmet, no travel" policy nationwide? — 09179876627

DOTC and LTO should run after vehicle with bald tires and exposed threads. When the tire gets flat it causes not only traffic but also poses danger to other road users. — 09283526961

Ban dark license plate covers! They actually make it hard to read the numbers and letters on the plate. — 09178871049

DUMB — Jeepney drivers running without headlights at night along Quezon Ave. DUMBER — Authorities who don’t apprehend them. — 09202664571

Idiot jeepney drivers turn off their headlights to "save" on batteries. Fact or fallacy? — Frustrated Pedestrian (Those who turn off their headlights at night are idiots. The notion that they get to "save" by doing so is the fallacy.)

I always enjoy and appreciate Mr. Deakin. Last Wednesday’s column was another winner. — 09196776327

I agree 100% with James Deakin. The PNCC should be held liable for the accident between the Fortuner and the Trooper. — 09178736963

James, aquaplaning is the result of overspeeding. A prudent driver should go slow during heavy rains. Period. — 09175405353

I think you made a mistake, indicating Nov. 10, instead of Oct. 10 as the date of the Skyway accident. I agree with you, about the international standard, though. — 09287094580 (Thank you for the correction. We do stand corrected.)

Can’t anyone do something about jeepneys using Macopa Street in Quezon City for their illegal parking and jeep stand? — 09206011730

Speak out, be heard and keep those text messages coming in. To say your piece and become a "Backseat Driver", text PHILSTAR<space>FB<space>MOTORING<space>YOUR MESSAGE and send to 2840 if you’re a Globe or Touch Mobile subscriber or 334 if you’re a Smart or Talk ’n Text subscriber or 2840 if you’re a Sun Cellular subscriber. Please keep your messages down to a manageable 160 characters. You may send a series of comments using the same parameters.

ARGUABLY SCHUMACHER BUT I DAMON HILL FERRARI FORMULA ONE MICHAEL SCHUMACHER ONE RACE SCHUMACHER WINS
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