Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton. Monaco, 2012

Hamilton recalls 2001 kart race against Schumacher

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton shares his thoughts on Michael Schumacher and memories of his first encounters with the seven-times world champion.

What they’re saying

During pre-season testing Hamilton was asked for his memories of going up against Schumacher and what he admired about the seven-times champion whose pole positions record he beat last year. Here’s what he said:

Michael is someone I admire and I only have great things when it comes to thoughts of Michael.

When it comes to the influence he had on me, he just didn’t happen to be the driver I was influenced by. For me it was Ayrton [Senna] that I saw when I was five, and he’s the guy that I first started watching. So straight away he became my favourite guy, that will never change.

But of course I watched every [Schumacher] race, particularly his Benetton and Ferrari days. Admired his perfection and his drive, his fitness level and the way he conducted himself, most of the time.

I have two memories that come to mind. In 2001, I think it was, racing at Kerpen, his track, in karts. The word was Michael was coming to race. I think I was in Formula A or Super A. He raced in our class and I just remember being on the track with him and I thought that was cool. It must have been at the end of the race, and it was wet, weather wasn’t great, I remember pulling into parc ferme afterwards, my kart was parked behind his. I don’t know if he came up to me or I went up to him. He spoke to me the same level and it was just awesome to meet a great.

And then the next time was when I first got to Formula One. I think I was testing, it must’ve been 2006. I saw him ahead of me and I’m like ‘oh my God, I’m on Formula One and there’s Michael Schumacher ahead of me!’ He pulled away from me because I couldn’t keep up at the time. but it was a very surreal moment.

Read more about the time Hamilton and Schumacher faced each other in karts here:

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Comment of the day

Matt weighs in on the question of sport versus entertainment

I sort of disagree with Horner on one point, the sport´s purpose is not to entertain the public, it is to have a race and see who is fastest. The public watching this is a by product, an important one but it is still not the point.

If you go back the the sports roots, it was a bunch of eccentrics tuning their cars to go fast, finding somewhere to race them and then having a race. That people started going along to watch was a byproduct which was then progressively exploited for profit until it emerged where we are today as a pure marketing experience designed only to make money. This peak in profit driven policy hopefully ended with the Ecclestone regime.

Now the task is a tough one, Liberty have to unpick it until they can reach a point where the racing is pure again but they can still themselves make some money out it.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Franky!

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On this day in F1

  • Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica claimed the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix on this day in 2008

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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51 comments on “Hamilton recalls 2001 kart race against Schumacher”

  1. COTD ! Spot on.

    1. I actually disagree with COTD and slightly more with horner’s sentiments. there’s a strong whiff of rose-spectacle-ism when talking of motor racing as being ‘pure’. all this harking back to the good old days (i appreciate i am being a little mean here) is both reductive and meaningless. the world has changed immeasurably since the sport began, even since the 80s – every sport has – and for better or worse it has become a consumer product as well as a competition. the public watching is not a by product, they sustain the entire activity and have done ever since TV became ubiquitous in the late 70s.

      this is part of a wider point, which is often ignored, which is that sport is necessarily artificial. every rule that codifies what the sport is demands something of the competition. pure competition would be something like the early city-to-city races (e.g. this amazing story https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1997/57/1907-race-odyssey) or the land speed record (but even that is subject to rules restricting what does and does not count i.e. the average of 2 miles in opposite directions within an hour).

      F1 exists in a highly codified and restrictive set of rules so it is silly to think about it in terms of purity. in any given race/season there is competition but it is highly influenced by the rules. and given that there are so many rules it is an obvious choice to write the rules in order to attract the public to watch it, to consume it as a commercial product. if this is done well, the sport is self-sustaining (like any major sport). if it is done badly (as many argue it has been in recent years) then you have a flawed commercial product and a poor sporting competition. so i think horner has a good point – the sport as a product (dare i say, the show) is paramount.

      1. @frood19 I read the COTD and starting to consider my response, then I scrolled down and saw it perfectly articulated in your comment! Times they change, nothing is static and to wind back 5-6 decades of to an initial concept of ‘purity’ is overly reductionist and I don’t think represents where we are today with global spectator sports.

    2. Hmm I agree with the general sentiment of what Matt is saying, but I also think what he is saying about the roots of F1 can be said of all of our major sports globally. Progressively exploited for profit? Yeah ok but that’s a by product of a fan base growing for a sport that said fans find enthralling and entertaining. But, pure marketing experience designed only to make money? No, @sergio-perez spells out below why that is far from an accurate description.

      1. @frood19 Didn’t see your post until I had posted mine. I agree with you, and wrt your last line, it’s ok to ‘dare say the show’ because sports are a show, and are entertaining, or they wouldn’t exist other than for unpaid athletes to gather and do something they love to do because they love it so much they have to.

  2. Matt makes a great point there. Definitely the race and being the fastest is the purpose of F1. I really don’t think the current situation is as dire as he describes though.

    All the teams are there to race and go fast, they’re certainly not there to make money, in the slightest. Realistically the only ones making money from F1 are the owners, organisers, and (theoretically) the cities hosting the events due to tourism revenue. Everyone else is spending money to compete, not competing to make money. It’s crazy to think the billions of dollars the top teams spend couldn’t be better spent elsewhere for marketing purposes.

    There’s something about F1, the race, the passion, the speed, being the best amongst the worlds best that drives these teams and drivers to compete. So much so that I think really, it simply goes without saying in Horner’s interview when he talks about the sports purpose.

    The task is a bit off point too, you can’t “unpick” the sport and try turn it into what it once was. It’s impossible, the brand is too valuable and people are too passionate about it not to win at all costs. The task according to Horner simply is how to bring back that entertainment factor, as opposed to what technology can be implemented to remain relevant… I suggest re-reading the interview. It was quite insightful.

    1. PS, many many millions, not billions

  3. The greatest leading the great or is it the great leading the greatest must have been a blast

    1. Neither is the greatest imho.

      1. Who then on your list robby?

        1. For me, Senna.

          1. Senna and WHO ?

            This is about a “former and current” Formula One World Drivers Champion having raced each race during their respective eras in the sport. I call them the greatest racing with the greatest. No other combo of drivers have EVER approached the levels of success this pair has. So again, Senna is the incorrect answer for certain.

          2. Huh? I merely thought you were saying either LH or MS is the greatest, and the other is a great. And I merely was trying to say I don’t consider either as the greatest. I consider that to be Senna.

            Of course in the annals of F1 history MS and LH are or will be considered greats, but greatest is subjective. LH and MS raced each other upon MS’s return to F1 with Mercedes, so you can hardly say two greatest raced each other from different eras when in one era there can only be one greatest.

            Anyway, I didn’t want to take this this far, but just for the record, overall I do not consider MS the greatest in spite of his numbers, because he was given so many advantages hand over fist above the competition, including needing a contracted subservient to not compete against him, that many drivers given the same as MS was would have achieved the same numbers. That to me is the other side of the coin to BE and MM setting MS up with all those advantages in order to end the Ferrari WDC drought. And even with all those advantages he still spent his career being an unsportsmanlike bully on the track.

            LH will to me never be the greatest because again, thanks to BE, the formula LH has been winning his WDC’s in has been more akin to F1-lite, with drivers trundling along as passengers monitoring tire temps and fuel consumption and being unable to push themselves or their cars to any sorts of limits. LH et al have not been able to perform great feats in this era of ultra conservation and gadget tires and free DRS passing.

            So you can call certain drivers greatest of their era, a certain driver the all time greatest, based on numbers alone, but I don’t look at it as just numbers. Many consider Gilles Villeneuve one of the greats because of his relentless skill behind the wheel, and he never won one WDC.

          3. @robbie, the thing is, many of those same constraints could also be said to have applied in many of those same eras.

            Since you highlight him, Senna raced in an era when hard fuel limits meant that drivers had to drive conservatively in race trim and had to conserve fuel (Alfa’s turbo engines were probably the thirstiest, but their fuel consumption before the introduction of the restrictions on fuel capacity when running flat out could peak at 300 litres per race).

            No driver could drive flat out for a full race distance because they would have run out of fuel long before the end: if I recall well, Mansell talks in his autobiography how the engineers would plan out in advance how many laps he could run on each engine mode and then work out when he could use the higher performance modes and when he would have to turn the engine down and conserve fuel. If you look back at the archives of publications such as Motorsport Magazine, many of their articles from the 1980’s and early 1990’s make mention to drivers having to short shift and manage their fuel consumption over the course of a race – it just wasn’t quite so obvious to the public because we weren’t hearing the radio transmissions about it.

            As an aside, whenever I’ve seen the question asked of “who was the greatest driver”, it always strikes me as being a completely pointless question. Whenever you look at how people respond to that question, the answer that they give usually tends to reflect who was the strongest driver about 20-30 years earlier when the respondents probably were young children watching the sport and growing up with those drivers. I mean, just look at Enzo Ferrari and his famous maxim of whom he thought was the greatest driver of all time – he always went for the pre-WW2 great of Tazio Nuvolari, a man whom he described as the greatest driver of the past, the present and the future.

            I can recall one poster on another forum demonstrating that by going back through historical polls and showing how that trend progressed. If you looked at polls from the early 1990’s, it was drivers from the 1950’s and 1960’s who dominated the polls, and figures such as Ascari or Gurney were amongst those who appeared in the top 10.

            Go forward to the late 1990’s, and you say the stars of the 1970’s rising up the rankings and those from the 1950’s and 1960’s beginning to drop down – quite a few polls of the time put Jackie Stewart as the greatest, with figures such as Emerson Fittipaldi being right up there as well, although some key figures from the 1950’s and 1960’s, such as Fangio or Clark, were still often rated above later stars like Prost or Senna.

            Over the past five years, it’s Senna that has now tended to be the figure that most hype up, probably because the more vocal commentators now are those who grew up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. People almost always tend to go with what they experienced first hand, and in reality the nature of the sport has shifted so much over the years that it seems to me to be a bit of a pointless exercise anyway – a driver who might well have been cut out for his particular era might well flounder in another given the rapidly changing requirements of the sport.

          4. @anon Always great reading your stuff. Yeah I totally appreciate what you’re saying and I didn’t really want to get into the details of whose the greatest until the discussion got a bit weird and I thought I should clarify my opinion, just to support what I had said to Ted.

            You are right about fuel conservation in the past, but I think you will agree they weren’t having to conserve much else back then, unlike these days when it’s been about conserving everything at once while on joke tires. You just had the impression in past eras that drivers were performing greater feats.

          5. Meant to reply to the longest comment, but senna did exactly the “worst” stuff schumacher did if not worse: schumacher took out hill in 1994 and it’s not even sure he did on purpose and tried to take out villeneuve in 1997 and the rascasse parking in 2006 which I’ve always thought might have been a mistake, but everyone seems 100% sure he did on purpose.

            Senna took out prost in 1990 at suzuka at over 200 kph in what was a purposeful, and dangerous action to ensure he won the championship.

            He also squeezed prost in some way similar as schumacher did with barrichello in hungary 2010, so some stuff schumacher is accused of is stuff senna did too.

            For me senna has been overrated by most people, cause in several best driver rankings he appears first, let’s not forget he won all his titles in the best car, even though williams 1991 was coming up well in the end of the season I think mclaren was best overall, and schumacher was already giving him a run for his money in 1994 with a benetton which overall wasn’t better than williams.

            I think he’s been overrated cause he was charismatic and died on track at his peak, but this doesn’t make him the greatest, for example prost who spent most of his career racing vs him won 4 titles and was very close to 3 more, one of the titles senna won vs prost, prost scored more points but there was a rule where only the best 11 results would be considered.

            Senna was the better qualifier and in the wet, probably one of the best of all time in these 2 categories, but of 65 poles he only converted them into 41 wins, a pretty bad ratio compared to schumacher 68 to 91, hamilton (who is also a great qualifier) 70 or so to 62 or so or even prost.

            Prost was more consistant and made less frequent mistakes, which is what in general made him a less exciting but more successful driver.

      2. One of them certainly is.

      3. There are a few greats, the greatest will be a subjective opinion, most likely influenced by our experiences following the sport.

        As Hamilton said, he looked up to Senna, while Vettel for example is a confessed Schumacher fan. Max, probably Jos.

        I’m not one for discussing who was the ultimate F1 driver, too many variables, different times, different machines. Too much emotion when it comes to that argument. We should just appreciate the fact that we might have seen a few race.

        1. @johnmilk Yeah you’re right, but I think that it is ok to discuss one’s choices exactly because it is emotional. One of the beautiful things about the sport. There isn’t a right answer even if some comprehensive studies or polls have concluded master lists of the order of the Greats taking many aspects into consideration. Not everyone by any stretch would agree with whoever any study would put as The Greatest. And that’s fine and it’s human nature.

          1. @robbie in that case I would change the word “discuss”, maybe with “talk” or “share”. If we are going to discuss it would be very hard for people to tell the best to ever do it wasn’t Pedro Lamy

          2. @johnmilk Not sure I get the difference between discuss and talk and share and opine, as in, I just think we needn’t grill each other over our opinions on the topic of ‘the greatest’ because it is emotional and subjective and personal. Give reasons for your choice sure, and those are just one’s personal reasons for one’s personal opinion. That’s why I initially said to Tedbell neither, in my ‘humble’ opinion. To try to say to us that the greatest was Pedro Lamy would take a lot more than a humble opinion, and would have to be a real sell job, and an unsuccessful one at that, lol.

          3. @robbie you underestimate my selling skills

            Not sure I get the difference between discuss and talk and share and opine

            I probably see a bigger difference between those words due to how I translate them to my native language

    2. I remember seeing a video around that time of Schumacher beating most of the best Kart racers at Kerpen, bar one super quick kid who stood out and it was’nt Lewis. On an F1 race day around Kerpen youd see Schumacher flags hanging out the windows of houses.

      It was easy for Schumacher to turn up with his mechanics to compete in the sport he loved, but extremely difficult for the numerous top Kart racers to get out and go upwards. Lewis’ budget would have been well over 6 figures, you then get an exclusive championship of well monied kids.
      The hot topic of getting girls to and above this level to then go on and win races in single seaters, there needs to be an increase of girls in Karting at least 20-fold. This is where money could be ‘invested’ instead of sponsers throwing money at pretty faces with no race wins to hang around F1.

      1. Fully agree. Ground roots. For a woman to be in F1 (none curreny worthy) women need to increase numbers in go karts and subsequently junior formula leading to F1. Its a numbers game and many briiant male drivers never make it for a variety of reasons. Thing is are there enough women who want to try?

  4. I’ve been saying Merc for the championship is a certainty and I stand by it, but I must elaborate on that subject, as Mercedes aren’t making the right noises.
    From press extrapolation, I don’t think Mercedes are happy with the progress they’ve made. First Allison on interview then Lewis being Lewis you never know. I believe they aren’t as quick as they wanted to, as quick as they thought they would, they’ve pointed the finger at tyres. This pressure comes from how quick the RB apparently is after gps analysis.
    On a side note the new suspension clamp down should’ve helped Mercedes and affected RB and Ferrari.
    Evidently RB have a different way to control ride-height. (Gary Anderson on the autosport podcast pointed out that the RB looked to have no issues controlling ride height and that Ferrari on visual inspection were still working on it)
    We haven’t reached Melbourne but all things point to a Merc vs RB fight, and Melbourne might be unrepresentative and reliability is sure to make it’s mark much latter on the championship, but Melbourne is undoubtedly a Mercedes track as it’s one of the highest on fuel consumption, therefore it can hint to how close the cars might be in relative performance.

    1. Interesting analysis pear tree, inclined to agree.

      I think on the subject of ride height/suspension etc RB have always had the edge on the rest, which is not to belittle Mercedes or Ferrari. It would be great to see a three way fight, fingers crossed!

      Of course we’ve seen these mind games from Mercedes before, ” pressure is on us to keep up” they say. But we’re yet to see that, Lewis and Mr Wolff.

      1. I think we just won’t know until we see some races on various tracks. And even then. So to say ‘all things point to…’ when nowhere near all things are known, is of little use. Mercedes continue to be the defending Champions, so we have to give them the nod as being the ones who need to be surpassed. Ideally, we need to see the whole season to know, because as we have seen, things can take a turn after the August break. Australia nowhere near decides anything. Unreliability for example, if it happens at the beginning of a season, can be made up for and overcome with so many races and points yet to play for. Unreliability at the end, when there is little time left to answer for that, can spell the end of a team’s Championship hopes. They simply have to run all the races for us to know, unless of course there is utter domination from one team and one driver.

        1. Yeah of course the proof is in the pudding. Your points are all valid, no question.

          But the fun is in the anticipation, hope and (educated) guesswork. Makes up for a long off season.

          Bring on Melbourne already!

          1. Lol for sure, and can’t wait.

  5. ”Would you like to see drivers’ helmet colour schemes on the Halos?” – TBH, I don’t really care either way.

    1. I still haven’t decided, and it might take until Australia and seeing them in action, whether I like the black halos or the body colour ones, but while I think helmet coloured ones is kind of a cool concept, I think it would make the halos the centre of attention, and I would think in several cases at least there’d be too much of a clash in colours with the rest of the car.

    2. I’d like to see a holographic projection of the driver’s head floating above the halo, surely they could fit the necessary technology into it? It’s massive enough.

  6. COTD is spot on.

  7. While I would absolutely love to see what COTD is proposing, it will obviously never happen.
    For one simple reason: Liberty didn’t by F1 to make “some money”. They did it in order to make “all the money” they can get.

  8. Nissan Skyline.
    15th March 2018, 5:04

    I keep being directed to a racefans.biz lol This year I’m seriously going for a Ferrari blowout. I’m serious. Red Bull will be there but Merc will feel the Alli affect….jamesy is creepying in. 1.Vet. 2.Max. 3.Trump/Ric. 4.Ric/Trump 5.Alonso/Trump

    1. Nissan Skyline.
      15th March 2018, 5:07

      Nah I’m Joking.


      1. Close but I see it as;


        1. Nissan Skyline.
          15th March 2018, 5:34

          I love the suger as well, seb up. Go Max, Go Daniel but I predict a punch up.

        2. @homerlovesbeer If that list ends up being the case, that might mean that Red Bull win the WCC, which won’t please Toto one bit!

  9. Regarding comment of the day:

    Its also about Human Excellence. About personalities, about the talented, hardworking racer fighting his way to the top. Of individuality, of different approaches. Of engineering brilliance, of men and women building the ultimate 4 wheeled racing machine and the best driver, a team of human beings, challenging other human beings for glory. Its also a long story, an Epic film, that goes from the junior ranks, from childhood dreams- including those at engineering and design, until reaching the pinnacle of motorsport. Not only F1, motorsport in itself is its own Narrative.

    This should be in the core of the development of the entertainment value and business around motorsport.

    F1 should be the pinnacle. the ultimate challenge. The top of the ladder, the very best vs the very best. The most innovative , higher tech and boundaries pushing engineering- no autonomous nonsense though, leave that to the science fairs.

    Also, not the biggest Lewis fan, but really great words and respect for M. Schumacher there. Also never was much of a Schumacher fan, but he is undoubtedly one of the all time greats. Keep Fighting Michael!

    1. @sergio-perez

      Does the above vision include having the drivers flying around in private jets? (often public purse subsidised) owners having yachts that can cost the price of an average house just to rent for one week? teams competing to have the fanciest motorhomes? Things F1 managed without in the ‘Gladiator days’ . All ultimately paid for by the fan and to the detriment of the the public purse.

    2. Completely agree @sergio-perez
      Those are the core values that made me a fan of the sport

      Btw good luck for the season

  10. No entertainment, no money. No money, no sport.

  11. Ben Constanduros (@BenConsty)
    Todt is wrong, fans see the halo and it looks 👎🏼 they cannot see HANS….

    They don’t see HANS because the cockpit sidewalls are raised to almost the top of the helmet.

  12. To the COTD, it’s a bit pie in the sky. All sport started out as competition–friendly or otherwise–to find out who was best at X, whatever that was. But there is a difference between you playing tennis at the local park/club and people who get paid to play. The difference is the money to pay the professionals, which has to come from somewhere.

    It could come from a select group of wealthy benefactors who would then control the sport and may even keep it private (i.e. not publicly viewable–think some art patronage situations). It could come from wealthy businesses (as now), in which case they are going to want to recoup their investment with profit (most anyway are not in it for the good will). It could come from fans only, and that still occurs in very low level competitions but is not enough to support more and more expensive sports.

    So, since we are at the point where major sports are funded by corporations, @frood19 ‘s point is spot on. The rules of a game are artificial by definition. We can hope and push for rules that make for lively competition, and hope the sponsors realize that such competition increases viewership (assuming it will) and will give up wins for return on investment. But it seems most views are short-term now (wanting profits now, not over time), so I’m not holding my breath.

  13. So Robbie your defense of greatest driver is well written and l happen to agree with most of it. It makes me realize that Formula One stirs passion in many of us.
    I like following the drivers, their success, their failures, seeing who is limited by their car not being good enough, see who rises to the occasion. At the end of the season a good driver with the right equipment can make a name for himself and that good driver in bad equipment can ruin his career. I see F1 like that way and have attached myself to drivers in many eras since Jim Clark. I like to see clean racing where advantage of car creates better driving. When you start racking up Championships, the measure by which a driver is selected based on his finishes over the course of a season. Great drivers come from those who accumilate Championships. To see a driver like Hamilton excel at winning even through radical rules changes tells us he is great enough to master his competition four the last four seasons. If you win often in your generation of racecar and that brings multiple Championships during that era then l call it “greatness”. Hamilton is on path to accomplish more than anyone ever in F1 racing. Schumachers records were believed to be untouchable. Who is next at greatness after Lewis and Seb ? Max and or the other young drivers Ocon, LeClerk, Sirotkin and others. A few of these guys are mouthy already and they aint done squat so far. Will they aspire to greatness ? Again to follow F1 closely there will be a tale of the human experience in machines whose sole purpose is to fight against race machines from other nations who challenge to become Champion of Formula One
    I think it great. Thanks Robbie

  14. Hamilton is faster.
    I remember thinking (midway in 2007) had Michael not retired at the end of 2006, we would have had Lewis vs Michael in 2007 for the championship. The greatest vs the greatest rookie.
    Their Monza battle is also very memorable.

  15. Maybe Horner should look back at how cordial the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg was when there wasn’t a WDC dangled in front of their noses. It’s all fun and games when it’s all fun and games.

    Or just go back to the mishap between Verstappen and Ricciardo during the race at Hungaroring. That sure sounded super “cordial”.

    1. @patrickl Not sure what you mean. He was saying Max and Danial are the most cordial they’ve (RBR) ever had. Nothing to do with LH and NR. As to MV and DR after last year’s clash, yeah of course some tension was always going to be inevitable in a situation like that, but aside from the heat of the moment stuff from DR who was understandably ticked initially, all indications seem to be that they got past it pretty quickly. I think we can safely say all Max was intentionally trying to do was race hard, but intentionally hit DR? No way. So they just moved on.

      1. @robbie It has everything to do with Hamilton and Rosberg. They were all peachy and happy when they were in Red Bull’s situation of fighting for podiums and the occasional win. Even Rosberg winning the first race for Mercedes when Hamilton had it in the bag but his car failed from the lead, they were still happy all around.

        Somehow all of that changed dramatically. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from that? Hmmm what could it be?

        We’ll see how cordial they still are when Red Bull have a car that has an actual shot at the title.

        1. @patrickl For sure, I agree with you. Ya I think they just have to see how things pan out, but I’m not sure if they can learn anything in the sense that if things get tense and the gloves come off, there may be no turning back. A one-off incident is one thing, but several incidents close together another altogether, especially as you say if they have a WDC/WCC capable car. Of course, LH and NR had the front to themselves and that exaggerated the situation as did their long standing relationship going back to their youth. Tension was likely always inevitable in that situation.

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