Michael Schumacher is a legendary German racing driver who competed in Formula One for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, and Mercedes. Schumacher has a joint-record seven World Drivers’ Championship titles (tied with Lewis Hamilton); at the time of his retirement from the sport in 2012, he also held the records for the most wins, pole positions, and podium finishes—which have since been broken by Hamilton—while he maintains the record for consecutive Drivers’ Championships and number of total fastest laps, among others.
The most extraordinary driver’s origins were most ordinary. He was born on 3 January, 1969, near Cologne, Germany, six years before his brother Ralf, who would also become a Formula One driver of note. Their father, a bricklayer, ran the local kart track, at Kerpen, where Mrs Schumacher operated the canteen.
When Schumacher was four, his father modified his pedal kart by adding a small motorcycle engine. After he 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 built him a kart from discarded parts; at the age of six, Schumacher won his first club championship. To support his racing, Schumacher’s father took on a second job renting and repairing karts, while his mother worked at the track’s canteen. Nevertheless, when Schumacher needed a new engine costing 800 DM, his parents were unable to afford it; he 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. Schumacher joined Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert in 1985, and by 1987 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 Three Championship, winning the 1990 German Formula Three Championship. He also won the 1990 Macau Grand Prix under controversial circumstances. He placed second behind Mika Häkkinen in the first heat, three seconds behind. At the start of the second heat, he overtook Häkkinen, who only had to finish within three seconds of Schumacher to clinch the overall win. In the closing laps, Schumacher made a mistake, allowing Häkkinen to attempt to overtake. Schumacher changed his line immediately before Häkkinen did the same as the latter moved to overtake, and Häkkinen crashed into the back of Schumacher’s car. While Häkkinen’s race was ended, Schumacher drove to victory without a rear wing. Schumacher gave the prize money from winning the race to his family as they had debts.

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