The 2023 Formula 1 season has begun with Max Verstappen looking to win his third consecutive world championship title and Lewis Hamilton hoping to break the current record and win an eighth world title.
The British driver currently shares the record with Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher but has been hoping to go one step further than the iconic Ferrari driver.
Schumacher has long been considered one of the best ever Formula 1 drivers and at the time of his retirement in 2013, he held the records for the most wins (91), pole positions (68) and podium finishes (155). These have since been broken by Hamilton but the German racer still holds the record for the most fastest laps (77).
However, in 2013, tragedy struck and the German driver suffered a life-changing skiing accident and has not been seen in public since with little known about his current condition.
Here is all the latest information about Michael Schumacher and his Formula 1 career…
The early years of Michael Schumacher
Schumacher was born in Hurth in West Germany in 1969 and it was his father, Rolf, who first brought racing into Michael’s life by modifying a pedal kart, attaching a small motorcycle engine to it.
In order to support his son’s growing interest in racing, Rolf took on a second job renting and repairing karts and when Michael needed a new engine, he was able to be supported by local businessmen.
Schumacher obtained a kart licence in Luxembourg at the age of 12 and in 1987, he was the German and European kart champion. He first made the step into single-seat car racing in 1988 and participated in the German Formula Ford and Formula Konig series, winning the Formula Konig title.
In 1989, Schumacher then signed with Willi Weber’s WTS Formula Three team and he won the title the following year.
Before joining Formula 1, Schumacher signed with the Mercedes junior racing programme in the World Sportscar Championship and finished fifth overall, winning the season finale at the Autodromo Hermano Rodriguez.
Michael Schumacher in Formula One
Throughout his career, Schumacher was known for his ability to produce fast laps at crucial moments throughout a race and push his car to the very limit for sustained periods.
Schumacher made his Formula One debut in 1991, joining the Irish Jordan-Ford team as a replacement for Bertrand Gachot. He was then lucratively signed by Jordan but following his debut at the Belgian Grand Prix, he was then engaged by Benetton-Ford for the next race where he would ultimately stay until 1995, winning the 1994 and 1995 World Championships.
In 1996, Schumacher joined Ferrari for a salary of $60million over two years. Previous to his arrival, they had not won a drivers’ championship since 1979 and a constructors’ championship since 1983.
He would then go on to win five consecutive world titles with the Prancing Horses before a rule change to the 2005 season involving tyres greatly affected Ferrari’s dominance and Schumacher then finished third.
2006 became Schumacher’s last season with Ferrari and following his win at the Italian Grand Prix, he announced his retirement from Formula 1. He was handed a trophy by the former footballer Pele at the season’s last race in Brazil.
Four years later, Schumacher made his return to the track, driving for the new Mercedes GP team. He was 41 and he finished 9th, 8th and 13th in his three years with the Silver Arrows.
When announcing his retirement for the second time, Schumacher said: “There were times in the past few months in which I didn’t want to deal With Formula One or prepare for the next Grand Prix.”
What happened in 2013?
As tragic irony would have it, Schumacher’s life-changing accident came a year after he ended his Formula One career.
In December 2013, the Ferrari icon was skiing with his then 14-year-old son Mick, and fell, hitting his head on a rock sustaining a serious head injury. Physicians said had he not been wearing a helmet the Formula One legend would most likely have died.
He was airlifted to Grenoble Hospital where he was put into a medically induced coma because of traumatic brain injury and by early April he was showing moments of consciousness as he was gradually withdrawn from the coma.
Schumacher left Grenoble Hospital for further rehabilitation in June 2014 and three months later left the hospital and was taken back to his home. In November 2014 it was reported that the seven-time world champion was ‘paralysed and in a wheelchair’, he ‘cannot speak and has memory problems’.
What has been said of his condition recently?
The family make a point of keeping Schumacher’s condition as private as possible. Netflix released a documentary in 2021 about the former Ferrari driver in which his wife, Corinna said: “I miss Michael every day. But it’s not just me who misses him. It’s the children, the family, his father, everyone around him. I mean, everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here. Different, but he’s here and that gives us strength, I find.
“We try to carry on a family as Michael lives. ‘Private is Private’, as he always said. It is very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible.”
Additionally, his son Mick, who is now a reserve driver for Mercedes having raced for Haas for two years, said: “I think dad and me, we would understand each other in a different way now. We would have had much more to talk about and that is where my head is most of the time, thinking that would be so cool. I would give up everything just for that. These moments that I believe many people have with their parents are no longer present, or to a lesser extent.”
The most recent news comes from his former F1 boss, Jordan, who was previously banned from visiting his former driver but has since revealed Mick made contact.
Speaking to OLBG Jordan said: “As far as I’m concerned, I was touched by (Mick reaching out) and the reason I was touched by it was because it can’t be easy knowing that your father is not able to be part of the family, he’s there but he’s not there.”