The year of Retirements – An ode to Schumi – the Regenmeister

Statutory warning : This post contains sports, sports and more sports. Those who hate sports or Schumi, better not continue further.

Yes, I know. I am pretty late to write about this. But better late than never.

As you might have guessed, i am talking about the number of people retiring from sports arena, and no i am not talking about cricket. I have somehow lost my interest in it. I am talking about other sports. First there was Zidane, who retired from all levels of football. Then a whole bunch of footballers like Totti, Roberto Carlos et al announced their international retirements. ( One retirement which amazed me the most is that of Riquelme. But i am not gonna talk about that here). Then we had Agassi and Navratilova who announced their retirements from tennis and finally a week ago Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula1 at the end of the season( And it is about him that i wanna write).

Schumi, as he is popularly known around the world is one of the greatest racing drivers i have ever seen and i know not many people actually think so. He actually began kart racing in a wooden kart at the age of 4, in the karting track managed by his father. And by 12 he was racing competetively. Now lemme see, at the age of 12 i think i was learning how to ride a cycle and there is this guy who has obtained a licence and is racing competitively. Now that is amazing.

The story of how he gotta drive his first race is even more amazing. When Bertrand Gachot was imprisoned before the 1991 Belgian GrandPrix, Eddie Jordan was trying to find a replacement driver. It was then that Schumi approached Eddie Jordan and asked for the drive. To impress Jordan, Schumi also said that he knew the track like the back of his hand, but the fact was that he had just been round the track once that morning, that too on a borrowed bicycle. Jordan gave him the driver’s seat and he impressed all by qualifying 7th. Actually he finished 1992 in third position ahead of Ayrton Senna.Now according to me, that is greatness.
What i find amazing is his capacity to get out fast laps at crucial moments in the race. His exploits in wet weather is well known. That is the reason he is known as “Regenkönig” ( Rain king or king of wet weather) or “Regenmeister” (Rain master).

After Ayrton Senna’s death, Schumi is regarded as the fastest driver in F1 and the most dominant one. And like him he is having more than his share of controversies.

The first Controversy, which most people point out is the championship deciding collision of 1994. Schumi was leading Damon Hill with 1 point going into the last race. He was leading from the start, but when Hill started applying pressure, he made a mistake, ran wide and hit a wall. Nobody knows if his car was damaged as a result of that, but he lost momentum after the recovery. Hill tried to seize this opportunity, by going for the overtaking manouver and tried the inside line for the next corner. Schumi turned his car into Hill’s car taking out both of them. He won the championship that year. He did try a similar thing on Jacques Villeneuve 2 years later, but it ended with him out of the race and Villeneuve finishing third and winning the championship. Schumacher’s second place in the championship was stripped off him.

For the people who don’t know about it, Aryton Senna had done something similar to his rival Alain Prost a couple of years ago. He had actually proclaimed before the race that he will take Prost out of the race and did take him out. Actually i find it amusing that people who blame Schumi for this controversy also praise Senna for what he had done.

His move to Ferrari was a fruitful one. He won 5 back to back driver’s championship with them (and in the process of winning a 6th one this year). This had to do more with his driving skills combined with the strategy of Ferrari. Actually he is the first driver in F1 to win a race in the pit lane. In the British grandprix, he was given a “stop-go” penalty ( in which he has to come into the pit lane and stop for 10 seconds and then continue) with 3 laps to go. Once this penalty is given, the driver has 3 laps in which he has to come into the pits. Now since he had just 3 laps to go, he just picked up his speed and dived into the pitlane on the last lap. Ferrari pit garage was after the finish line and the chequered flag, shown to indicate the end of the race, can be shown in the pit lane too. Thus he became the first driver to win the race from pitlane. McLaren, their nearest rivals, complained about this, but it was found that what ferrari did was within the law of the race.

The number of records he has tumbled is amazing.

  • Most championship titles: 7
  • Most consecutive championship titles: 5
  • Most race wins: 90
  • Most consecutive race wins: 7 (in 2004European GP, Canadian GP, United States GP, French GP, British GP, German GP, Hungarian GP) This record is shared with Ascari, which won the last 6 races of 1952 and the first one of 1953. The following race was the Indianapolis 500, in which he did not participate. Afterwards he won other two races, but since the Indy 500 was officially part of the F1 World Championship, his winning streak was already over.
  • Most race wins with one team: 71 with Ferrari
  • Most race wins at the same GP: 8 at the French Grand Prix (Magny-Cours)
  • Most time between first and last race wins: 14 years, and 12 days and counting
  • Most second place finishes: 43
  • Most podium finishes: 153
  • Most consecutive podium finishes: 19 (from the 2001 United States Grand Prix, until the 2002 Japanese Grand Prix)
  • Most points finishes: 188
  • Most laps leading: 4726 (with a total of 22,072.693 km in 130 Grands Prix)
  • Most pole positions: 68
  • Most starts from first row: 108
  • Most fastest laps: 75
  • Most doubles (pole position and race win): 40
  • Most hat-trick (pole position, race win and fastest lap): 22
  • Most championship points: 1,354
  • Most consecutive race finished without retirement: 24 (from the 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix, until the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix)
  • Most race wins in a season: 13 (out of 18 races)
  • Most fastest laps in a season: 10 (out of 18 races; tied by Räikkönen in 2005)
  • Most championship points in a season: 148 (out of a maximum of 180)
  • Most podium finishes in a season: 17 (out of 17 races)

(Source : Wikipedia)

Schumi we’ll miss u. Schumi Rulz