To pick one incredible moment from Michael Schumacher’s career is difficult, I am sure most fans have experienced several edge-of-your-seat, pacing-the-room type instances thanks to the great German. Some may even recall his first championship win 20-years-ago today on November 13th 1994 – three weeks before my own birth, I might add.
It is important to note that, although this first title came two decades ago, the seven-time champ only retired (for the second time) at the close of the 2012 season in Brazil. His imprint on the sport is ever-lasting and the surge of great German talent we see today cannot be a mere coincidence.
The 1994 season was marred by the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola as well as accusations regarding sporting regulations. 1994 needed a great champion, a one of a kind, someone truly special. Step forward, Michael. The final round was billed as a straight fight between Benetton’s Schumacher and one-time title holder Damon Hill; the penultimate race in Japan ended with the two rivals split by just one point.
Although Australia is more commonly known as the first round these days, it played host to the final race of the year in 1994. Nigel Mansell lined up on pole for Williams-Renault with Schumacher second and Hill third. This order remained unchanged until lap 36 sealed the fate of both drivers. The two collided, spinning across the Australian tarmac, leading both to retirement. While it was deemed a racing incident by the stewards, many have noted the controversial nature of Schumacher’s first title win. Indeed, since neither driver finished, Schumacher retained his advantage to win the first of a record seven world championships.
This moment will be remembered by the Schumacher family. His website, linked here, has been relaunched today to commemorate this momentous occasion. You are invited to leave messages of support for Michael as he continues his recovery after a skiing accident left him with head traumas eleven months ago. It is thought that Michael’s treatment is taking place in Switzerland, where he lives full-time with his family. You can, of course, also leave messages about his championship and your favourite moment from his incredible career which included 91 race wins, 68 pole positions and 155 podiums.
Keep fighting, Michael.