Michael Schumacher: The Man Who Rewrote Formula One

Following the positive news on Monday that Formula One legend Michael Schumacher is no longer in a coma and has been moved closer to home, we are looking back at his many achievements. Schumacher broke the majority of the records in Formula One during his time in the sport and rewrote what it meant to be a top-level Formula One driver. His incredible fitness meant that he was able to drive every single lap of every single Grand Prix on the limit and he was able to have a normal conversation in the middle of a Grand Prix whilst doing well over 200mph in those beautiful V10-powered monsters that we saw in his prime. His bold move to Ferrari in 1996 quickly silenced the critics when he took an incredible win at the Spanish Grand Prix. He and Jean Todt rebuilt Ferrari into a completely unstoppable force until he retired for the first time in 2006. His comeback in 2010 didn’t see him achieve as much, but he still continued to extend some records.

Wins: 91 (Second place: Alain Prost: 51)

Arguably the most important of his records is his absolutely incredible number of wins, with 91 achieved in his 19 years in the sport. That is an average of just under five wins each season, which is more than some champions achieved in their whole career. 91 is, interestingly, just one shy of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna’s win tally combined.

World Titles: 7 (Second place: Juan Manuel Fangio: 5)

Consecutive Titles: 5 (Second place: Juan Manuel Fangio/Sebastian Vettel: 4)

In the early days of Formula One, Fangio was the dominant driver, taking five titles with four teams. Many thought that would never be beaten, and although Alain Prost came close, nobody was able to beat that tally until Schumacher took his sixth title in 2003, narrowly beating a young Kimi Raikkonen. Schumacher also beat Fangio’s record for consecutive titles by taking his fifth in a row in 2004.

Pole Positions: 68 (Second place: Ayrton Senna: 65)

Schumacher’s qualifying speed was incredibly good, but it wasn’t always the biggest weapon in his arsenal. Despite this he took 68 poles in his time, beating the incredible record set by Senna, and had two further poles taken away from him, both at Monaco.

Wins in a season: 13 (2004) (Tied with Sebastian Vettel [2013])

Wins in a season for a runner up: 7 (2006) (Shared with Alain Prost [1984, 1988] and Kimi Raikkonen [2005])

Schumacher achieved a remarkable 12 wins from the first 13 races in the 2004 season. The only race he didn’t win in this time was at Monaco where he crashed out. Sebastian Vettel came close to beating Schumacher’s record last year, and he would have done had he not suffered reliability issues at Silverstone. In 2006, he threw everything he had at Fernando Alonso as they thought for the world title, but narrowly missed out, despite winning seven races that year.

Podium finishes: 155 (Second place: Alain Prost: 106)

Podium finishes in a season: 17 (2002) (Tied with Sebastian Vettel [2011])

Schumacher also holds the record for most podiums, taking an incredible 155 trophies in his time in the sport, including a well-earned one at Valencia in his last season. In 2002, he finished in the top 3 in every single race, and only one of those was in third place, a truly remarkable achievement and one of the records that cannot be beaten. Sebastian Vettel came close to beating 17 podiums in the 19-race 2011 season but failed to achieve it.

Most wins at the same Grand Prix: 8 (French GP)

Schumacher had a fantastic record in France, winning the race at Magny-Cours eight times, in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2002 and finally in 2006. In addition, he also holds second place with seven wins at the Canadian and San Marino Grand Prix.

Most poles at the same Grand Prix: 8 (Japanese GP) (Tied with Ayrton Senna [San Marino GP])

At a proper driver’s circuit, Suzuka, Schumacher achieved a remarkable eight poles. Perhaps most notable of these poles was the one in 2000, which is the race where he took his first title for Ferrari, his own personal favourite Michael Schumacher moment.

Fastest laps: 77 (Second place: Alain Prost: 41)

Fastest lap doesn’t result in much nowadays but does provide some bragging rights. Schumacher beat Prost’s longstanding record by quite some margin, with nearly double the amount of fastest laps.

Fastest laps in a season: 10 (2004) (Tied with Kimi Raikkonen [2005, 2008])

Both Schumacher and Raikkonen achieved 10 fastest laps from 18 starts in the 2000s, but Schumacher was the only one to take the title at the same time.

Most races led: 142 (Second place: Ayrton Senna: 86)

Most laps led: 5,111 (Second place: Ayrton Senna: 2,931)

Schumacher is credited with leading at least one lap in 142 of the 307 Grand Prix that he started, which is roughly half. Senna’s ratio is slightly higher but it’s still an incredible feat, unlikely to be matched. Schumacher also has led over 5,000 laps in his illustrious career.

Most ‘doubles’: 40 (Second place: Ayrton Senna: 29)

Most ‘hat tricks’: 22 (Second place: Jim Clark: 11)

To achieve a double is to win a race from pole, and to achieve a hat trick is to win a race from pole taking fastest lap along the way. Schumacher is well ahead of the rest in both of these areas, with 11 more doubles than Senna and 11 more hat tricks than the great Jim Clark.

Schumacher formally held multiple other records such as youngest double world champion but has since been eclipsed by Sebastian Vettel in that area. Also records with points involved are notably skewed due to the change in points systems over time. Schumacher used to hold the record for most points but was beaten by Fernando Alonso, with help from the current system of 25 points for a win.

So love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Schumacher’s records are truly incredible. Records are there to be beaten, so I am sure that more of his records will be eclipsed in the future, perhaps Vettel will be the man to beat that incredible feat of 91 race victories, time will tell, but Schumacher remains a living Formula One legend, and we hope to say that for many years to come.

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