About this season
His extraordinary Formula 1 career started on the 25th of August in 1991 at the Belgian Grand Prix and a lot of stories are told about this special weekend: that Michael and his manager spend the night in a youth hostel, that Michael was ill shortly before the weekend and only because of a small white lie was allowed to drive, that he learned the track on his own, by cycling around the track on a bicycle, that Bertrand Gachot was not allowed to drive because he had assaulted a London taxi driver, that Michael Schumacher became seventh in the qualifying and that his debut ended after a few hundred metres because of a damage to the gearbox.
The fact that Michael’s career finally got going at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza is less known. He had his ups and downs in Spa, like his first victory and the legendary collision with David Coulthard, and also Monza was always good for some sensations: 1996 he won the Tifosi’s heart, 2000 he left the press-conference in tears and on September 10th in 2006 he announced his retirement.
His story of success had started 15 years before that – exactly in that Italian village called Monza. Endless contract negotiations between his first team Jordan and his new employer team Benetton went by. The talks started at the day after his debut in Spa and ended the night before the free practice in Monza.
“To join Benetton was a great chance for my future“, says Michael. At this point he and Willi Weber already knew that Jordan will use Yamaha engines in the next season. “We were aware of the fact that this would be a disaster.” So they seized the chance called Benetton. “Although it did not quite feel right leaving a team after only having driven about 500 metres. A team which had given you a chance to drive. But back then it was the right thing to do.”
His first real Formula 1 race is the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, even he says that. “It was the first time I drove more than 500 metres.” But not only that: “I fought a duel with the great Ayrton Senner because he had some troubles at the beginning of the race. I was able to stick to his tail and also attack him – even though I could not get past him.” That is the time Michael realized that also the champions are only humans; even if they have three world championship titles to show, which was the case for his team mate Nelson Piquet.
Michael drove five races shoulder to shoulder with the Brazilian. Only once Piquet defeated him at the qualifying. He finished the season with four points in six races; he scored two of them in Monza. At the Japanese and Australian Grand Prix he never saw the checkered flag and during the qualifying in Suzuka he had his first accident. So already the first six race weekends of his first Formula 1 career are almost as exciting as somebody else’s whole career.
Courtesy by motorsport-magazin.com
Grand Prix Wins
All Grand Prix