Michael Schumacher, Jordan, Spa-Francorchamps, 1991

“He was on it from the word go” – Schumacher’s debut remembered

1991 Belgian Grand Prix flashback

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On this day in 1991, Michael Schumacher made his F1 debut at the wheel of a Jordan 191.

He stunned the F1 world by putting the car on the fourth row of the grid but his first race lasted less than a lap.

It was a bittersweet weekend for Jordan as the other car came close to winning the race.

Gachot sent to prison

Jordan entered Formula One at the beginning of the 1991 season with Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot.

The team had begun the year well, scoring points with the effective at attractive 191. Gachot had set the fastest lap in Hungary, but just two days later he was in court in Britain.

Six months earlier, Gachot had sprayed a taxi driver named Eric Court with CS gas following an argument. He was expected to receive a fine or suspended sentence for the offence and was scheduled to fly after the hearing to a tyre-test session at Monza.

But the judge found him guilty, and although his sentence was later reduced, he had to spend nine months behind bars. The Belgian Grand Prix was a week away, and Jordan had lost a driver and a significant source of sponsorship money.

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“Someone had to stand on the track and stop him”

Schumacher stunned on his F1 debut

The search began immediately for a replacement driver. Team manager Trevor Foster and designer Gary Anderson wanted to go with a little-known young driver from Germany called Michael Schumacher.

But Eddie Jordan wanted to go with 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, for the credibility he’d bring to the team, despite Rosberg having retired five years previously. Stefan Johansson and Derek Warwick were also considered, but all three expected payment, so the team kept looking.

Schumacher, then 22 years old, was in his second season of Group C racing with Mercedes. He was developing a reputation thanks to strong performances in the World Sportscar Championship alongside Karl Wendlinger.

When his manager Willi Weber heard the news about Gachot, he pounced. In Timothy Collings’ The Life of the new Formula 1 Champion, Weber said: “Eddie wanted to know if he had ever driven at Spa, so I told him ‘I think about 100 times’, which was a complete lie, because Michael was never at Spa before!

“He said he wanted time to think it over, but I didn’t give him any. I called him every hour.” A fee of £80,000 was agreed upon for a test at Silverstone that week.

“He was absolutely on it from the word go”

Mark Gallagher, who is now in charge of Cosworth’s F1 operation, was present at Schumacher’s first F1 test, and told F1 Fanatic what unfolded: “The few of us in what was a very small team headed down to the South Circuit at Silverstone.

“I stood at the Armco and saw him go out and, more to the point, listening to him go out because he was absolutely on it from the word go.

“Where the cars exited between the Armco barrier was actually a little chicane. He lost it on his first flying lap coming into the chicane and we thought we were witnessing a shunt. But he caught it and floored it and basically went through the chicane sideways rally car-style. Pretty impressive.”

Schumacher was asked to do a few installation laps but stayed out for seven: “The only way they got him to stop was someone physically had to walk onto the track and stand in front of him and get him to come in,” remembers Gallagher.

“He was really enjoying himself – and proving a point. He was very quick and within a few tenths of a second of the best time we’d seen on the South Circuit.”

Schumacher was confirmed as the second driver for Spa. The price was £150,000 and Mercedes confirmed they would guarantee the money, with help from sponsors Dekra and Tic Tac.

Schumacher starts seventh

The start of the race weekend was dominated by the news of Gachot’s conviction. “There was a great hullabaloo when we turned up because all the attention was on Gachot not being there,” says Gallagher.

Prost shared the front row with Senna

“All the drivers were wearing white T-shirts with protest messages: ‘Let Gachot go’ and ‘Let Gachot out of jail’.” Similar messages had been scrawled by fans on the track.

Trevor Foster asked de Cesaris to take his new team-mate around the track in a road car, showing him the lines and when to change gear. De Cesaris never did find the time for his new team-mate, so Schumacher got a fold-up bike out of the boot of his car and set off around the track.

After two laps of the track under pedal power, Schumacher and his manager headed off for the evening. No accommodation had been provided for them so they stayed at a youth hostel just outside Spa.

Friday practice came and Schumacher was immediately on the pace. He ended the day eighth-fastest on a track he had never driven before.

The following day Schumacher qualified eighth, behind Ayrton Senna, Riccardo Patrese, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi and Nelson Piquet. Patrese’s time was disallowed when the scrutineers found his reverse gear wasn’t working, which promoted Schumacher to seventh.

He was also two rows ahead of his veteran team-mate. Gallagher says, “That was notable because, obviously, de Cesaris was no slouch. And for Michael to arrive at a driver’s circuit like Spa and do such a good job was terrific.”

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1991 Belgian Grand Prix grid

Row 1 1. Ayrton Senna 1’47.811
2. Alain Prost 1’48.821
Row 2 3. Nigel Mansell 1’48.828
4. Gerhard Berger 1’49.485
Row 3 5. Jean Alesi 1’49.974
6. Nelson Piquet 1’50.540
Row 4 7. Michael Schumacher 1’51.212
8. Roberto Moreno 1’51.283
Row 5 9. Pierluigi Martini 1’51.299
9. Stefano Modena 1’51.307
Row 6 11. Andrea de Cesaris 1’51.986
12. Ivan Capelli 1’52.113
Leyton House-Ilmor
Row 7 13. Mark Blundell 1’52.377
14. JJ Lehto 1’52.417
Row 8 15. Mauricio Gugelmin 1’52.623
Leyton House-Ilmor
16. Martin Brundle 1’52.626
Row 9 17. Riccardo Patrese 1’52.646
18. Thierry Boutsen 1’52.709
Row 10 19. Gianni Morbidelli 1’52.896
20. Eric Bernard 1’53.309
Row 11 21. Johnny Herbert 1’53.361
22. Satoru Nakajima 1’53.494
Row 12 23. Olivier Grouillard 1’53.628
24. Mika Hakkinen 1’53.799
Row 13 25. Emanuele Pirro 1’53.839
26. Erik Comas 1’53.847

Schumacher’s race ends early

The race morning warm-up boded well for the race as Schumacher went fourth-fastest.

Schumacher didn’t make it this far in the race

When the race started he got away well and was already up to fifth, passing Jean Alesi and Nelson Piquet – the latter was so surprised he thought Schumacher had jumped the start.

But suddenly it was all over. Going around the La Source hairpin the first time, Schumacher had dipped the clutch to keep the car from understeering. But bringing it up again so soon after the initial start proved too much for it, and the clutch disintegrated. He coasted to a halt at Raidillon.

“We nearly won the thing”

Up front, Senna fended off Prost at the start while Mansell stalked the pair of them. Prost’s race didn’t last much longer than Schumacher’s – his engine died on lap three.

Mansell followed Senna until the McLaren driver pitted for tyres on lap 15. It was a slow stop, and Senna found himself having to defend from de Cesaris when he came out.

Mansell’s pit stop left him behind Gerhard Berger, who he quickly passed to take the lead. Berger’s pit stop went more smoothly – but he spun as he rejoined the circuit.

That left Mansell in a comfortable lead – but it only lasted three laps, when Alesi passed him for the lead at the bus stop chicane. A voltage regulator had failed on the FW14, and Mansell retired.

Alesi held the lead until lap 29 but his Ferrari couldn’t go the distance either. Not unusually in 1991, it was the V12 engine that failed, further postponing Alesi’s maiden race win.

Senna took what proved a vital win

Senna was back in the lead again and behind him was a three-way battle for second place between Piquet, Patrese and de Cesaris. Patrese took Piquet but slid off at Les Combes, handing the place back and allowing de Cesaris through as well.

While the marshals were attending to Alesi’s smoky Ferrari at Raidillon, de Cesaris flashed past under Piquet’s rear wing. He ducked out and passed the Benetton – with its superior specification Cosworth engine – at Les Combes.

The sole remaining Jordan was now in second place – and closing in on Senna, who suddenly lost eight seconds with a gearbox problem. “My goodness, we’re going to win the race,” thought Gallagher at the time.

But de Cesaris, in his 160th race, was struggling with problems of his own. His Cosworth V8 was running out of oil. With three laps to go, and Senna just three seconds ahead, the engine died on the approach to Pouhon.

Patrese was in trouble too. Having taken second off Piquet he slipped back and was passed by Berger. Piquet took third place back and was followed home by Roberto Moreno, in what turned out to be his final race for Benetton.

Patrese recovered to take fifth place and Mark Blundell claimed the final point for Brabham.

It was a precious win for Senna, who had responded to Mansell’s mid-season surge with a pair of wins that put him 22 points clear with five races remaining.

“I have a younger brother, he’s even quicker than I am.”

Had his car kept going – and, for that mattter, had Schumacher’s, who knows what kind of result Jordan might have pulled off.

Gallagher says, “It was an epic weekend – we nearly won the thing. But I would say we went away from the weekend probably reflecting on the fact that Schumacher looked to be very quick, but also reflecting on the fact that our car was fantastic around Spa.

“I remember Prost saying there was only one car on the grid that was impressive to follow through a quick corner and that was the Jordan, because the diffuser worked so well on that car.

“The car was amazingly quick, a real testimony to the work that Gary Anderson and his team of three design engineers had done in 1990 with Mark Smith and Andrew Green. They came up with a very simple car, very easy to work on. Mechanically excellent, good traction, fantastic aerodynamics.

“And around a track like Spa, Schumacher, as we found out in subsequent years, was something of a Spa ace. Around Spa, he was able to make the most of that 191’s aerodynamic and mechanical stability.”

There was, of course, a sting in the tail, as Benetton poached Schumacher before the next race. Schumacher’s associated with Jordan lasted just 17 days passed. Schumacher’s ascendancy was rapid – he scored his first F1 win on his return to Spa the following year.

In 1991 he told Gallagher to be on the lookout for another Schumacher: “I have a younger brother, Ralf, he’s even quicker than I am.”

Seven years later Jordan finally won their first Grand Prix at Spa, with Damon Hill leading Ralf Schumacher in a one-two finish for Jordan.

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1991 Belgian Grand Prix result

Pos Car Driver Team Laps Difference
1 1 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 44 1:27:17.669
2 2 Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 44 1.901
3 20 Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 44 32.176
4 19 Roberto Moreno Benetton-Ford 44 37.310
5 6 Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 44 57.187
6 8 Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha 44 1:40.035
7 12 Johnny Herbert Lotus-Judd 44 1:44.599
8 21 Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 43 1 lap
9 7 Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 43 1 lap
10 14 Olivier Grouillard Fondmetal-Ford 43 1 lap
11 25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 43 1 lap
12 23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 42 Gearbox
13 33 Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 41 Engine
Ret 4 Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 33 Oil leak
Ret 22 JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd 33 Oil pressure
Ret 28 Jean Alesi Ferrari 30 Engine
Ret 24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 29 Gearbox
Ret 11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Judd 25 Engine
Ret 26 Erik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 25 Engine
Ret 5 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 22 Electrical
Ret 29 Eric Bernard Lola-Ford 21 Gearbox
Ret 16 Ivan Capelli Leyton House-Ilmor 13 Engine
Ret 3 Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 7 Spun off
Ret 27 Alain Prost Ferrari 2 Fuel leak
Ret 15 Mauricio Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 1 Engine
Ret 32 Michael Schumacher Jordan-Ford 0 Clutch
DNQ 30 Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford
DNQ 34 Nicola Larini Lamborghini
DNQ 10 Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford
DNQ 35 Eric van de Poele Lamborghini
DNPQ 9 Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford
DNPQ 17 Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford
DNPQ 31 Pedro Chaves Coloni-Ford
DNPQ 18 Fabrizio Barbazza AGS-Ford

Were you at this race? Do you remember it? Tell us about it in the comments.

Michael Schumacher on his 1991 F1 debut

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94 comments on ““He was on it from the word go” – Schumacher’s debut remembered”

  1. Keith, please, please, please put up a photo album post of Michael Schumacher’s 20 years in F1. That would be AMAZING. :)

    1. There is an earlier Schumacher photo gallery here from when he originally retired:

      F1 2006 Review: Michael Schumacher gallery

      1. Didn’t realize that. Thanks!

        They’re not wallpaper-friendly, though, like the Senna gallery was. Hope you consider doing it again for Schumi, if only so we get nice pics for our desktop. :)

        1. Spot on Journeyer.Thanks Keith.

  2. There have been a lot of pictures of the Jordan 191 floating around the internet over the last few days and I have to say that it is just about the most perfect looking F1 car ever made. It has always been a favourite of mine but I have just instated it at the top of my “best looking F1 car ever” list.

    1. Why is the Jordan 191 the best looking F1 car? Because it has a low nose, is wide track and has fatter rear tyres. Contrast that with underbelly-revealing reaching-for-the-stars noses we have on current F1 cars combined with the narrower track and skinny tyres and you’ll know. Compare head on and side shots of the 191 or even the 1991 McLaren and Ferrari with the present day Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari or any other F1 car.

      Can’t figure out why the European single-seater racing scene has fallen in love with the high nose concept. Even the new Dallara F3 car has incorporated this silly-looking platypus nose and those hideous turning vanes around the sidepods. But Dallara hasn’t made incorporated the high nose for its new IndyCar chassis.

      If you watched photos in Autosport.com of the new Formula Renault 3.5 chassis alongside the Renault R31, you’ll see the 3.5 looks infinitely more attractive and potent than the Formula 1 machine thanks to its massive width (in relation to its length) and its lower nose.

      Aesthetics are important, because they attract people. Surely making the cars wider, with fatter rear tyes, lower nose (with the front wings emerging from both sides of the nose cone) won’t cause too much damage to the aerodynamics?

      If I’m wrong, someone please enlighten me.

      1. As I understand it, the high nose has come around because of the emphasis on the rear end of the car for producing downforce, in combination with the sidepods. Note that McLaren has a lovely low nose because of its opposite sidepod philosophy.

        1. Correct and correct (as far as I understand it).

        2. Yes, Icythes, McLaren has the most balanced nose but they’ve still got that tongue-like flap beneath it.

      2. It’s not necessarily the narrow track, low nose and fat tyres that does it for me (you have to admit that there have been some stunning looking cars in the high nose, narrow track era like the Arrows A19 to name but one), it is more to do with the fact that it is such a stunning simple design with a few really lovely details (the low nose, the swoopy front wing, the low sidepods, the triple deck rear wing). The green paintjob just rounds it off nicely too.

        When I look at it, it makes me happy.

        1. That’s right GeeMac, but a wider track and low nose definitely make a car more attractive. In fact, aesthetically, F1 design has taken a downturn since 1993.

          The green paintjob on the Jordan 191 is just awesome (the Arrows was always a good looker and it had a lot to do with the orange colour), but picture the 191 with thin tyres, narrower track and high nose – it will look downright ugly, to say the least.

      3. I’m not sure what is the case now with all the flip flopping but I think lower noses was one of the points of interests in the proposed 2013 rules changes.

        1. Yes Mike, but those lower noses will go back to how it was in the 2000s which is still high in that there was some gap between the nose cone tip and the front wing. The nose and the front wing are connected by two pieces which is still ugly.

          I’d like to see the front wings emerging from both sides of the nosecone instead of being suspended from the nosecone as has been the case largely from 1996. For this the nose has to be significantly lower like the current or new-for-2012 Dallara IndyCar design.

          Had the ground-effects been approved the cars would have looked remarkably different though the high nose would continue. It’s been 13 years since we’ve had this loathsome narrow-track design and 18 years since rear tyre width was reduced. Surely it’s time for a change.

  3. Just a pity about the clutch as there is a very real possibility he would have won his first grand prix.

    Apparently they talked about changing the clutch in the briefing because it was slipping. The eventual decision came because Jordan said it would cost to much to change.

    1. The story I’ve always heard was that the race start was the first time he had started the car with a full load of fuel, so a little bit of advice from the team and/or de Cesaris on how to handle the situtaion could have avoided it.

      1. Schmacher said himself that after the warmup they used to have on the race morning the clutch was slipping. They talked about it in the briefing after whether they should change it or not but Jordan finally said it would cost to much money and left it.

    2. According to the contemporary report I read the clutch was changed between the morning warm-up and the race. Sounds like someone you read has got it in for Jordan!

      1. I think that was from a Schu interview. Maybe putting the blame on some1 else with hindsight?

        1. Tommy Scragend
          25th March 2021, 12:51

          Surely not!!!

  4. It’s from Schumacher himself commenting to Auto-motor-und-sport!

    Wouldn’t blame Schumacher though if had it in for Jordan after some of the things he been saying!

    1. That’s very interesting. I tried to get a word with Jordan for the article but he was unavailable. I wonder if someone will ask him on the BBC over the race weekend.

      1. Here is what Schumacher said “The background was that we had problems with the coupling in the warmup. At the briefing I pointed out that the clutch slips. We talked about the hot heads, whether we should change it or not, but Eddie finally said that it costs too much money.”

        Wouldn’t mind hearing what he says! The usual story is he wasn’t used to the high fuel load. Maybe Schumi was just keeping quite because it was a inner team thing but has now decided to be open about it with Eddie going around slating him all the time.

      2. I remember Eddie Jordan confirming the story at BBC two races ago.

  5. Michael was right about Ralf wasn’t he!

    1. Same as Ayrton was about Bruno!

      1. Unfair comparison. We’ll never know how good Bruno could’ve been if his family hadn’t prohibited him from racing for 10 years after Ayrton’s death.

        1. We’ll know now how Bruno fairs.

          1. I think you missed the point of that post.

            We’ll never know how good Bruno could have been, due to the gap in racing he had after his uncle’s death.

          2. UKfanatic (@)
            31st August 2011, 23:51

            I think PT is right. If my mother never born I wasnt born either. this is the kind of situation we are debbating bruno is a slightly poor paid driver.

        2. True true, well let’s hope he gets a fair shot in the Renault for the rest of the year.

        3. UKfanatic (@)
          31st August 2011, 23:54

          That doenst matter many drivers shine till F1 and then prove nothing, schumi the most succesfull driver ever wasnt that big prodigy but mentally he shined brighter than anyone, that plus luck nowadays money equalls success.

    2. Maybe he was.

      Ayrton said about Bruno: “Fast, me? You should look at my nephew!”

      And this week I also read somewhere that (I think it was Sauber said) “Frentzen had more talent then Schumacher”

      It’s all about determination, dedication and making sure you’re at the right place at the right time.

      1. should’ve refreshed the page before I commented after a phonecall…

    3. To be honest, Ralf might have been faster than Schumacher. HH Frentzen was as well, from what was in that Sauber interview.

      But Ralf never had anything close to the working mentality to get every last drop out of it, like Michael had.

  6. One of the greatest looking cars ever

  7. So what is all the fuss about? Schumacher qualified 3.4 seconds off pole, just ahead of a Minardi in a car that had race-winning pace…And about the TicTac sponsorship, just look at the Ferrari F2001 – Even as three-times world champion, he was basically a pay-driver!

  8. I love this Schumi story. From afar it has everything, doens’t it? He qualifies in 7th in his first race in an uncompetitive car and a few spots ahead of his very experienced team-mate. Oh yeah, and he had never driven in that track before.
    Of course, if you were looking closely, the picture is a bit different: Spa is a stone throw from Kerpen, Schumi’s home town. Would you believe that a driver from, say, Cambridge, whose whole has life revolved around racing, gets into F1 and says he’s never driven in Silverstone? But you are prepared to believe this “he had never driven in Spa” canard? If so, you may as well be interested in buying a property I have for sale on the shores of the sea of tranquility? The trip is a bit long but the view is fantastic-a bargain!
    I wont spend much ink on Andrea de Cesaris, but I’ll agree that he was no slouch – he would have to improve quite a lot to get there. He was a one lap man. Not because he was a good qualifier, but because he would provoke a first corner accident more often than not. Then one has to look at the relative strengh of the Jordan car: If Andrea de Cesaris could put it in 11th, any decent driver could put it in 7th or better. Just to reinforce it: Andrea de Cesaris was in 2nd place for most of the race up to when his car went up in smoke. Really, qualifying 7th with that car and in that circuit (that one, right beside your house) was no great accomplishment, it was just ok-ish.

    1. you are prepared to believe this “he had never driven in Spa” canard?

      Until you show me when he had driven it previously, yes.

      1. Lucas Alexander Munro - Mr. Veloce of Britalia - Yours With Wings
        25th August 2011, 12:52

        Schuey could have very well won his first race in F1 because Andrea de Cesaris was challenging for the lead before retiring and he started 11th when Michael started 7th.

      2. So Keith, what about that summer house by the sea of tranquility, then? Nearby the “small step for a man, great leap for mankind” spot…;-). Seriously, I am not the one to make a researsh on Schumi’s pre-f1 career – life is just too short. But I believe that a team owner like Eddie would not hire the driver without checking whether his CV matches the facts. As the story goes, experience in Spa was a strong requirement for Eddie and checking the story he was getting from Willy Weber wouldn’t take much effort. Besides, if I, who never raced anything but indoor karts with friends, managed to drive in Spa a few times, imagine an up-and-coming German professional driver from Kerpen – Spa is just the best circuit in the region (apart from the Green Hell). This story is not even a nice legend – good story telling requires plausibility.

        1. As the story goes, experience in Spa was a strong requirement for Eddie and checking the story he was getting from Willy Weber wouldn’t take much effort.

          Actually, yes it would. It was 1991, not today where we can easily look up race calenders with Google. He would have to call each team and have to hope that they remember the calendars of the respective seasons Schumacher was with them and hope that they are not involved in the lie.

          The story is perfectly plausible and seeing the series he drove in makes it not too unlikely.

          1. I think this argument assumes that it was horribly difficult to obtain any sort of infomation before the advent of the internet. I am old enough to tell you that it was not so. In place of a few clicks, you’d have to give a few telephone calls – in this case, the calls would be to the organizers of the races in Spa which Schumi would have claimed to have participated in. For a F1 team owner, with his connections in the racing world, it would have been a pretty easy piece of info to obtain. And as a team chief he would obviouly do it if he found that having that specific experience was a sine qua non for a candidate driver.

          2. Schumacher’s pre-F1 experience isn’t actually that hard to find.

            His F3000 experience was one race in the Japanese series at Sugo. He did two seasons of German F3, which did go to circuits in other countries – but not Spa in 1989 or 1990. He did two bit seasons in the World Sportscar Championship, but fellow Mercedes junior Karl Wendlinger drove at Spa in 1990. The other series in which Schumacher drove were Formula Koenig and German and European FF1600 – even if Euro FF1600 visited Spa it would have been a whole different ballgame in an F1 car.

            I’m sure I’ve heard a story about Jordan wanting to know whether Schumacher knew about Spa too. The story was told by Willi Weber, who went onto say that he (Weber) lied through his teeth, said Schumacher knew Spa like the back of his hand and knew that Jordan was too interested in the money Schumacher brought to doublecheck.

        2. I am not the one to make a researsh on Schumi’s pre-f1 career – life is just too short.

          Apparently not short enough to discourage you from spending it posting innuendo under a false name.

          1. What do you mean by false name?

          2. Is “antifia” your real name then?

        3. A professional driver will only race at a particular track if the series he participates in takes him there. Strangely, neither the 1989 and 1990 German F3 championships nor the 1991 World Sportscar Championship featured Spa in their calendar. So there’s no reason why Schumacher would race at Spa. Strange, but true.

    2. And then again, Schumacher has won 91 races, 7 championships and earned about a billion dollars .. and what do you have? Bitterness and a bad mood. I think thats win number 92 on his side (that is if he could go down to a level that low to actually see beating you as an accomplishment).

      Sorry for the harsh words but this made me kinda angry.

      1. What made me kinda angry was MS getting to keep his wins and the WDC in 94 with all the illegalities found in the Benetton and the whack on DH, not to mention being excluded from his second place standing in 97 yet getting to keep those wins, not to mention the ‘win’ RB handed him in Austria 02. How about the ‘win’ while sitting in the pit serving a black flag penalty?

        1. If they’d taken his wins in 97 for a totally unrelated incident then they entire championship would have to be rescored. The car was legal, he didn’t do anything wrong in those races, therefore they cannot be taken away from him, regardless of whether he was disqualified from the season.

        2. It all happened in the sports best interest similar to FIA letting Fernando keep his win after the crashgate episode in Singapore, like Lewis’s & Alonso’s 8 victories from 2007 though car MP4-22 was a proven photocopy of the F-2007…. I can go on. But, you get it don’t ya

          1. matt90 and Icemangrins…but what bothered me about 97 was that Max warned the drivers before Jerez that any funny business would result in a 3 race ban at the start of the 98 season…MS commits a crime the likes of what Max was speaking of and instead gets a meaningless penalty…that in the same season JV was penalized one race for a yellow flag infraction…MS’s crime was way way worse and yet as I say no meaningful penalty…and I just don’t get the math that says he is stripped of second place standing which to me equals no points…how do you have race wins with no points? Have yet to hear a logical answer to that question.

            As to crashgate…it was only revealed a year later so they couldn’t go back and change the standings…also, huge penalties occured once it was uncovered, far more meaningful penalties than MS/97…as to LH and FA’s wins in 07…again…huge penalties were instilled as soon as it was uncovered…far different than MS/97.

            I sure find your wording ‘in the sports best interest’ debatable…I think it was in the sports best interest to curtail MS’s constant boorish behaviour on the track, and given Max’s warning ahead of Jerez 97 there was no better time to show MS, F1 and the world that there is no place for that kind of behaviour in the pinnacle of racing.

            There was no hesitation to try to teach a lesson after crashgate and spygate…in the sports best interest. I can only conclude teaching MS a lesson didn’t fit into the FIA and F1’s agenda for him to end the Ferrari WDC drought.

          2. And Robbie, how do McLaren get stripped of their constructors points in 2007 and yet their drivers still get to keep their drivers points? If the team cheated, surely the drivers are part of the team? Then there is the instance of Tyrell being DSQed from the whole season for a minor fuel irregularity at one race.

            The FIA makes all sorts of weird and inconsistent rulings. More consistency in future would be good.

            The one thing I will say is that the penalty MS served on the last lap in the pit lane met the letter of the regulation as written. The penalty didn’t effect him much because he took it then, but then again there have been plenty of penalties that result in no real disadvantage. Think of some this season where Hamilton has got 20 seconds added to his race time so that he finishes in the same spot, or a drive through he served close to the safety car resulting in no change in position. Those things are also to the letter of the regulation.

          3. You can’t rewrite history. Schumacher won those races and he did nothing wrong nor had anything wrong with his car in those races, therefore you can’t take them from him. And if you did, are they races where nobody has won, or are the wins reassigned to others months later?

            Removing Alonso’s win would have made more sense as he profited in that actual race he won from a conspiracy, but post-season it’s fair enough that the result stands. It is just that Alonso should have had the grace to denounce that win.

            Schumacher won those races. Regardless of what happens after, he won those races. They were won by him. In those races he finished first, and therefore that is the position he is credited as finishing in. Perhaps you feel that his records should have suffered as a result of his wrongdoing, that that would have been more of a punishment, but he did legitimately win those races, so they can’t be stripped from him. If you work somewhere for a year then get fired you don’t cease to have ever worked there at all, and you weren’t necessarily a bad employee for a year, it is just that you left in shame at the end. If you score a goal in football and then get a straight red so serious that you are also prosecuted outside of the sport, they don’t remove the goal you scored from the records.

        3. How about the ‘win’ while sitting in the pit serving a black flag penalty?

          The “black flag penalty” was actually a “stop-go penalty”, given to him with 3 laps to go, when told he could serve it in 3 laps time. This was before they changed the rules so time penalties could be added. The stewards were just incompetent.

          1. I always wondered how he got away with/around that.

          2. DVC…as you point out, there are inconsistancies in rulings, and I just like to point that out when people start to sound like MS was an angel and did no wrong. eg. his lack of penalty in 97 was a joke and meant to protect him while they carried on the agenda of MS ending the Ferrari WDC drought. So to me that makes things not entirely on the up and up, and it’s not like I expect the history books to be rewritten. Just like to point out the circumstances under which MS compiled his numbers and how the FIA had an agenda for MS so it wasn’t apples to apples. Perhaps the drivers at Mac in 07 got to keep their points because back in 94 MS was actually allowed to win the WDC with highly illegal cars and by whacking DH…and because they slapped his wrist for Jerez 97. Perhaps they felt they would look foolish doing even more than they did to Mac in 07 for punishment. I just know that MS and team was coddled. Something Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore can’t say.

            matt90…same thing…to say MS did nothing wrong or had nothing wrong with his cars is surely a joke on your part. MS’s unethical behaviour on the track is well documented, as are the illegalities particularly at Benetton in 94 along with the suspected illegal traction control MS enjoyed for years following. Again, not apples to apples racing. Contracted subservients for teammates and the FIA turning a blind eye to his behaviour is not honourable. But they sure compiled the numbers didn’t they, and they obviously sure have you fooled into thinking everything was on the up and up.

            Again, I don’t expect them to go back and rewrite the history books…I just like to point out the asterisks along the way. And they are plentiful when it comes to MS.

          3. @Robbie: Ok. I have no problem with you pointing out all the asterisks. So long as you do the same for every driver at the appropriate time, I don’t think anyone could object to that.

        4. About the black flag penalty, that was a very good call from the pit wall. They knew the rulebook inside out and got the best of it ;)

      2. Aaah bananarama, not your Schumi ahn? Shouldn’t do that… But just so I understand your argument: billionaire & champion, ergo, he can’t lie? Have actually watched his years in F1?

        1. I did, and I’m sure bananarama did. I saw brilliance in 1995 and 2000, and the other 5 times he became world champion.

    3. LoL at this post. Rarely there’s such a long post, with not one word of it factually correct. I suggest you go and learn a bit about Spa( like in 1991 and even later half of it was public roads, rarely used track etc, and not for junior series, apart from F3000). And while you’re at it, go and learn a bit of F1 history to understand that while Andrea was The Crasheris he was never The Sloweris.

      Otherwise you can retire to your beautiful home at Isle of Ignorance, in the middle of the Sea of Bitterness.

    4. Just to empahasize my previous post about how ridiculous antifia’s post is, he’s talking here about De Cesaris who was so slow in qualifying that he held the record for the youngest ever pole winner for 12 years between 1982 and 1994, same De Cesaris who was so slow that he raced 208 times in F1, obviously ’cause F1 team principals are so stupid they couldn’t see how slow he was, something antifia saw easily. And no logic can explain how from De Cesaris’ tendency to crash in races, had antifia deduced that he was also slow in qualy. Go figure.

      Also, antifia failed to read properly the article above( I understand that he doesn’t remember the race as I do but that’s okay). De Cesaris was only in second place for 10 laps or so after all those in front of him suffered technical troubles. In no way of form was that car worthy of 2nd place in the race on pure speed. And he was only closing on Senna because of Senna’s severe gearbox problems. It’s all in the article, all you need is take a look. But some people won’t let facts stand in front of their agendas, sadly.

      1. Well summed up Montreal95, you just got to laugh at the lengths Schumi haters go to sometimes.

      2. I witnessed De Cesaris crash right in front of me at Long Beach in 1982. With his head turn to the side and looking into the mirror checking out the fire going on at the back of his car, he simply drove straight into the wall having missed the apex and the impact of the car sounded like a shotgun blast. Never will forget the sound and had always wondered why he was even in F1.

        1. That was the race that kept him in the record books for 12 years as the youngest pole sitter until Rubens beat it in Spa 1994. De Cesaris had trouble keeping his concentration during the race, but he was no slouch otherwise he wouldn’t have a 13-14 season career. I remember him in US GP 1990 holding 3rd place from Senna for a few laps and then keeping easily in front of a much faster Boutsen’s Williams for 25 laps before his Dallara Judd’s engine expired.
          To say like antifia did, that Qualifying 4 places and 7 tenths faster than him should’ve been a breeze for a rookie is as stupid a statement as I’ve ever read.

      3. Brilliantly stated, this is exactly how I remember it

        1. Clicked the wrong place, this comment was meant for Montreal 95

    5. “Antifia” schumacher himself talked about that several times, confirming he had never driven there.

      He said at the time when Jordan asked, Willi Weber just couldn’t imagine he had not driven there, as it was so close. But he didn’t check that, as they were on the phone, and just confirmed it.

  9. You’ve put three t’s in matter Keith – mattter..

    top of the last section.

  10. “I have a younger brother, he’s even quicker than I am”… at eating cornflakes only, I suppose!

    1. Well, you could look at the 2011 season:

      Podiums – Ralf Schumacher: 2
      Podiums – Cora Schumacher: 1
      Podiums – Michael Schumacher: 0

      I love taking statistics out of context.

    2. Ralf was very chubby while Schumi was doing Karting.

  11. “The only way they got him to stop was someone physically had to walk onto the track and stand in front of him and get him to come in,” remembers Gallagher.

    Run Forrest … Stop Forrest!

  12. I want Mercedez to have a special livery for Michael for this race. A green 7UP livery just like his first drive. A very beautiful livery in my option!

    1. That would be amazing, lets live in hope

    2. and then let’s hope Schumi will drive for another 20 years lol

    3. Dream on Sumedh! As much as I’d like to see it, Mercedes always have the boring silver/grey colour for everything they do.

      1. It’s iconic. They used to race in white, but a brilliant dominating victory with the paint removed changed that forever.

        1. It all started inthe 30s, they arrived for a race & the car was found to be overweight so they stripped all the paint off, lost a couple Kgs and made the weight. When they polished the aluminium they liked what they saw & the rest is history.

  13. I hope the Spa legacy continues this weekend with Schumacher.

  14. “I have a younger brother, Ralf, he’s even quicker than I am.”

    What, there’s a third Schumacher brother, also called Ralf?

  15. That “younger brother” line reminds me of what Luca said about Massa in 2010 and Kimi in 2008. It was something to the effect of his brother raced instead of him! I hope someone can get the exact quote :D

    1. L.D.M. also said that it was Michaels twin who went to race for Mercedes as the real Michael’s blood was Ferrari red.

  16. What a chaotic race! I’d like to see it one day.

    1. My words exactly,they did featured it last year in Star Sports but they put the whole race in 50 minutes so I didn’t bother to watch it.

  17. Schumi, simply the best!!!

  18. Just remember Barcellona 1996! Incredible!

  19. Spa 97 and 98 – also incredible!

  20. i remember the week end clearly. The first time i have heard about schumacher was on the magazine ontrack, there was an article about him being the real deal. But i thought group c, it’s going to be hard to jump into an f1. A few months later he was at spa. You could see he was special from the first race, and then to benetton!!!. What a coup. Bernie of course behind the scenes. James allen explains very well the hole thing in one of his schumacher books.
    The cesaris was complaining about the car being nervous on the back straight over a bump. Whe it was mentioned to schumacher, he said, he felt it too, but it was fixed by braking with the left foot while still going flat. De crasheris with all his experience didn’t seem to know that.

  21. Spa is a real driver’s circuit, so I think all young driver tests should take place at Spa. Sounds a bit stupid, but maybe new talents would be found.

  22. Hi All,
    I read the Article, and all your posts guys, I just wanna thank you Keith for this specific article about Mickael, and all the surroundings of spa at that time, and read all these posts about Mickael and sometimes about Bruno Senna, Ralph and F1 Nose nowadays.
    I think you guys reminded me that wonderful period of F1, which I started watching a couple years earlier, and I still right now. I remember a couple of japanese

  23. Dschmitt1010
    25th April 2012, 18:19

    I hate how so many people say Schumacher was cheating in 94 with traction control when in fact after the FIA investigated it was found that he did use launch control but not traction control. All the while the majority of the other teams were using traction control. The Benetton that he was driving was the first of the high nose cars and had tremendous traction coming out of the corners. Williams was using traction control in the first half of the 94 season. Most of teams were using because it was stated they were not allowed to but said nothing about not having it on the cars. They said nothing about using launch control which were 2 different systems.

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