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Career highlight: Michael Schumacher part 3

November 8, 2022 at 16:55

Earlier we looked at the early years of Schumacher's career at Benetton and Ferrari. In this latest post, we are going to look at Michael's championships at Ferrari, his departure and finally his return to Formula 1 with the Mercedes team. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here:

Career highlight: Michael Schumacher part 1
Career highlight: Michael Schumacher part 2

Multiple world champion with Ferrari

After becoming 5th in 1999, Schumacher had a great start with a win in the first 3 races of the season. After these races, Michael was in a comfortable lead with 30 points. His main competitor from last year, Mika Häkkinen was in 4th place with only 6 points out of the first 3 races. Later in the season Mika was able to close the gap, because Schumacher had a DNF at the French Grand Prix, Austrian Grand Prix and the German Grand Prix. By winning the following races in Hungary and Belgium, Häkkinen managed to reach first place in the championship. The gap is now 6 points in favor of the driver from Finland. After the Belgium Grand Prix, 4 races would remain which were all won by Schumacher. After the penultimate race of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix Michael Schumacher won his first championship for Ferrari and the third in total.

In 2001 Schumacher was again able to win the driver championship. With 4 races to go Michael won his fourth title. In the end Schumacher won the championship with a total of 123 points, 58 more than runner up David Coulthard. One highlight during the season was his win at Belgian GP, with 52 career wins breaking the record of Alain Prost.

© photo: Mathieu Felten - CC BY-SA 3.0

2002 would be another dominant season for the German driver, winning his 5th championship with 11 wins in total and finishing every race on the podium. After the last race, Schumacher had a total of 144 points. His teammate Rubens Barrichello ended up 2nd in the driver championship, with 67 points behind Schumacher. 2002 also had a controversial moment for Ferrari. Barrichello had dominated the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix and was driving towards a win. After the last corner of the last lap, Rubens suddenly slowed down and let Schumacher pass to win the race. The fans didn’t like these team orders from Ferrari. Schumacher switched positions on the podium, which would give Ferrari a 1 million dollar fine. Schumacher returned the favor during the United States Grand Prix, after which team orders were banned.

A year later Schumacher would again have rivals from other teams. He found competition in Kimi Räikkönen driving for McLaren and Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams. Schumacher hadn’t had a great start to the 2003 season. With some problems in the first 3 races, Schumacher was 8th in the championship with a total of 8 points, 16 points behind Kimi Räikkönen. The 4th race of the season, the San Marino Grand Prix was the first race he won that season and after this one many would follow. Schumacher won his 6th title after the last race of the season, meaning he broke the record of Fangio, who had won the driver championship 5 times.

Schumacher won 12 of the first 13 races in 2004. He missed out on the win in Monaco due to a crash with Montoya. He took his 7th title at the Belgium Grand Prix with still 4 races to go. Michael also set the record for most wins in a season with 13 wins in total. The record Max Verstappen just recently broke.

Retirement end of 2006

The 2005 season introduced new rules that required tyres to last for an entire race. This new rule brought the advantages to the teams which were using Michelin tyres. Ferrari using the tyres from Bridgestone, meant a big disadvantage for the Italian team. It soon became clear that Schumacher couldn't compete for the 2005 championship. Fernando Alonso won the championship that year and brought an end to the Ferrari/Schumacher dominance.

© photo: TMWolf - CC BY-SA 2.0

2006 would prove to be a better year for Schumacher and Ferrari, but he would announce his departure from the sport during the Italian Grand Prix. After the Chinese Grand Prix with still races to go, the German driver would lead the championship. With a DNF in Japan and only a 4th place in Brazil, Fernando Alonso again won the championship.

We were going to get ready for a season without Schumacher, the end of an era.

His return with Mercedes

© photo: Mark McArdle - CC BY-SA 2.0

At the end of 2009, Schumacher announced his return to Formula 1 with Mercedes. He would become teammates with Nico Rosberg, with the team that was known as Brawn GP. He would eventually drive for Mercedes for 3 years. In 2010 he finished 9th with 72 points, 70 points behind his teammate. The year after that, Schumacher finished 8th this time 13 points behind Rosberg. His final year Schumacher managed to finish on the podium once during the European Grand Prix on the Valencia Street Circuit. He finished the season in 13th place.

In 2014 Lewis Hamilton took over his seat and this time it would really mean the end of Schumacher's career.