Takeaways from the Schumacher documentary
Spoiler alert! If you are a motorsports fan and have yet to watch the recently premiered Schumacher documentary on Netflix, then we highly suggest you crawl out of the rock you’ve been hiding under and log in to Netflix and chill.
While we do admit that most of the information presented in the documentary is nothing new, dare we say common knowledge especially to the hardcore Schumi groupie, it is the insights into his life outside of an F1 car that opens your eyes to the kind of man that he is.
Michael Schumacher, 7-time World Drivers’ Champion, 91 victories, 155 podiums, 68 pole positions. These are just some of the multitude of records he set during his illustrious F1 career. He set the standard in terms of driver fitness, a concept previously unknown before he arrived in the sport. He became a team leader, someone who motivated those around him to do his bidding. And his motivation to win, at all costs at times, made him the legend and the icon that many drivers around the world emulated, or despised.
Michael was blindingly quick in his day. He was able to make a slow car drive faster than it had the right to. But this documentary is not about his driving technique. It does not run through the races he won. It goes deeper. It delves into the mind of a man, his beliefs, his attitudes and his motivations over the years in the era he had to rise above from.
Here are some key takeaways from the Schumacher documentary that you might find interesting or thought-provoking. Certainly there are more details and easter eggs worth noting, but we leave the rest for you to unravel.
“I was always glad to have won with the worst and not the best equipment.”— Michael Schumacher
For anyone who has raced, using fresh tires and equipment is key to winning. Or so we thought. During his karting days, Michael used worn out tires to practice and even win races with. Starting on the backfoot gave the man motivation to race harder. This same motivation and attitude he carried into Formula 1.
“If you’ve got a terrible car, it is still a terrible car in the rain. You can’t overcome that.” —Ross Brawn
While this is generally true, Schumacher and his Ferrari team were able to refute this with a stellar performance in the wet and soggy 1996 Spanish Grand Prix. This was his first win with the Italian outfit after moving from Benetton where he had already won two championships. It is regarded as one of his finest races as he disappeared in the lead despite the appalling conditions.
Michael’s brother Ralf, a former F1 driver himself, would recount how as kids they drove go-karts in the rain only with slicks on. The control over the car he developed and the resulting confidence in such conditions would arm Michael with an arsenal of miracle moves that would cement his legacy as a “Regenmeister” of the sport.
“To reach 100% that is my target…I couldn’t live with anything lower” — Michael Schumacher
Schumacher’s attention to detail is well-known. His obsession to achieve perfection by setting-up the car so he could extract the maximum performance out of it, testing late into the night, and all the while keeping himself in shape, consumed him. “He would be the last one in the garage every night with the mechanics,” recalls F1 journalist Richard Williams. And the results would speak for themselves.
“Often, he overstepped the mark when he really didn’t need to, when he had done enough.”—Mark Webber
To win at all costs. This is the mentality Schumacher brought into the sport. Despite doing more than what everyone at the time did, his paranoid passion to achieve perfection led him to go beyond the limits at times.
From “colliding” with Damon Hill in the Adelaide championship-decider race in 1994, to purposely turning into Jacques Villeneuve in the 1997 title fight, and even parking his car in the middle of a corner in Monaco to shamelessly secure pole position, Michael would tip-toe the fine line of rule and reason to achieve a win.
“I’m as much a human being as anyone.” — Michael Schumacher
It is said that Capricorns believe they can never be wrong. That the word, “mistake” is not in their vocabulary. When the January-born Schumacher was disqualified from the championship in 1997 for intentionally colliding with Jacques Villeneuve, we saw a humbled champion.
In the film, we would also see him recall how he got paranoid after witnessing Ayrton Senna’s tragic death. Later on, we would see how taking time off from the sport would bring out a soft and jovial side in him hardly seen by the public. These moments of humanity defined him in the end.
“Driver of Ferrari means, if you don’t win you are an idiot.” — Luca di Montezemolo
After five seasons driving with the Scuderia, and the team missing out on the title in the final race of the year four times, Schumacher and his team were already having doubts about his ability to bring the championship home to Maranello. But in the 2000 season, Schumacher finally bagged the title on the final round in Suzuka. And having relieved himself of the pressure, he went on to another level, destroying the opposition for the four more years.
“No, he is in a coma but coma doesn’t mean anything bad.” —Michael Schumacher
He thought this upon learning of Senna’s post-crash condition. Ironically, Schumacher himself would be in a six-month coma after his unfortunate skiing incident in December 2013. Eight years on, fans continue to hope that he comes out well again from his debilitating injury.
“It was a support to him, just knowing he wasn’t alone.” – Corinna Schumacher
The devotion of Schumacher’s wife Corinna throughout his career, and even now by his bedside as he recovers, puts a new meaning to the marital vow, “For better or for worse.” She was with him as they travelled the world to race. And she continues to be his strength to this day, devoting her time to care for the man she loves. Preserving the privacy that Schumacher had always valued.
“My family is more important now.” — Sabine Kehm
Schumacher’s manager, Sabine, recalled how he realized one day that what really mattered to him was his family. His three-year comeback stint with Mercedes-Benz opened his eyes to this realization. Schumacher was a devoted family man. The kids would always be at the races with him, even outside the prying eyes of the press. By 2013, the time had come to devote his time to them.
“I would give up everything just for that.” — Mick Schumacher
Michael’s son, Mick, who is now racing for the Haas F1 Team, shows his regret for not being able to share his racing life with his dad. Now that they can speak the same language of motorsport, he longs for the idea of being able to talk to him about his current experiences and share typical family moments with his Papa. A truly tear-jerking moment in the film.
“Michael is still here, different, but here.” — Corinna Schumacher
Corinna believes everyone misses her husband. But those hoping to see him in the film as he is now will be disappointed. After eight long years away from the spotlight, not knowing what his true condition is, it is difficult for fans to comprehend how the Michael of old will ever come back.
“He still shows me every day just how strong he actually is,” reassures Corinna. And despite the family, Corinna, Mick and Gina, all wearing black in the film, fans and followers of Michael still continue to hope for the best.
For a man so celebrated around the world in his day, the film certainly does him justice and shows the totality of his persona. Love him or hate him, Michael Schumacher was a man who only wanted to be the best in what he did.
As the Schumacher family, understandably, would like to preserve his legacy and keep his presence for themselves, fans like us can only say, “Keep fighting, Michael.”
Motoring and motorsports are two of Mikko’s greatest passions. Combining more than twenty years of professional automotive photography and videography experience with years of touring car racing competition, and a deep understanding of the car industry, from both the manufacturers’ and consumers’ points of view, have given him a unique and insightful perspective in the motoring beat.