How did the legendary car racer, Michael Schumacher rise to the global fame that he truly deserves? Let’s see how he made it from his debut in Formula 1 racing.
Schumacher made his breakthrough into F1 in 1991. The precursor to this was his continuing success in Sportscars and a second-place-finish in his F3000 debut for Ralt-Mugen at the Sugo All-Japan GP. Impressed by what he saw there Eddie Jordan invited Schumacher to deputise for the imprisoned Bertrand Gachot at the Belgian GP. Michael didn’t waste his chance.
Michael made a spectacular debut in Formula One. Having driven a Formula One car for the first time on the Tuesday before the race, his qualifying position of seventh was remarkable. It was even more remarkable if you consider it was the first time he had visited the track! Although he retired in the race on lap one with a clutch problem, he had made a significant impression on the Formula One circus. So much so, that by the next race he was now driving for Benetton.
Many discussions took place between Spa and the next race, which was at Monza over where Michael would be driving for the rest of the 1991 season and subsequent seasons, with both Jordan and Benetton claiming that he would be driving for them. Eventually things were sorted in Benetton’s favour, with Michael signed up for the remainder of 1991 and several subsequent seasons. Again he impressed, outqualifying triple World Champion Nelson Piquet, and scoring his first points as he finished fifth. A couple of sixth places topped off the remainder of the season.
1992 was a learning year – learning to cope with a new team mate, learning to drive new circuits, and learning to cope with new expectations from others in terms of results. He learned well, and managed to score a podium finish in only his eighth race, as well as a front row grid position in only his tenth race, only Nigel Mansell’s dominant Williams-Renault faster. He was involved in an incident with Ayrton Senna during a test at Hockenheim just before the German Grand Prix. A misunderstanding occurred between them on the track, leading to Michael brake-testing Senna. Ayrton apparently didn’t like this too much and grabbed Michael by the throat when he returned to the pits in front of a group of journalists. McLaren mechanics prised Senna off, with Michael saying that maybe Ayrton wanted to give his neck a massage!
Michael’s first win in Formula One came in only his eighteenth race, involving both skill and a bit of luck as he understeered off the circuit, but avoiding the barriers, continued on, and as he saw the condition of team mate Martin Brundle’s tyres, decided a change to slicks was the right thing to do. This allowed him to build up a lead which no-one was able to conquer.
After a close second in the final race of the season in Adelaide, he finished third in the World Championship, a tremendous achievement in only his first full year of Formula One.

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