Happy Birthday Michael Schumacher

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I decided to launch my blog on 3rd January. After following Schumi for the last decade or more, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s truly the best driver that modern day Formula1 has ever had.
May 2010, Turkish Grand Prix, I visited the Istanbul circuit and got a chance to bump into ‘God’ himself and I had to literally pinch myself. ‘Hey, what’s up!’ was what we exchanged before I wished him good luck for the GP and he wished me a good day! Not surprising that we didn’t speak much – after all we were in different team attire at an official F1 event!
So finally, after much pondering, here’s my F1 blog. This blog will largely be an aggregator of all my past, present and future columns on Formula1. I have been writing on F1 for nearly 5 years now and this blog will link all the work. With the Indian Grand Prix being held in this year (2011) the aim of this blog will be to address the Indian F1 audience and simplify an otherwise complex sport. I am hoping I succeed in bridging this gap.
I have to mention in this introduction the inspiration that Michael Schumacher has been to me. Here are my picks of a few of his best drives since he debuted way back in 1991. (only in order of my memory!)

  1. 2002 Japanese Grand Prix – those were the days of the 12-lap qualifying format. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari were near-about a second ahead of the rest of the field.  In the dying moments of the qualifying session, Schumi and Ferrari (who were already on pole) decided to have one last shot to the line, in case a competitor ended up beating their time. What followed was simply unbelievable. No driver could match Schumi’s speed and laptime (not even his team-mate Rubens). However, Schumacher still ended up bettering his laptime and this time ended up re-enforcing his pole position with a time that was nearly a second faster than every other driver on the grid!
  2. 2000 Japanese Grand Prix: After multiple attempts since 1997 to clinch the Driver’s World Championship, Michael Schumacher finally ended up clinching his first title with Ferrari in 2000. This GP was a perfect combination of fine driving and master strategy. Brawn’s pit stop strategy saw Schumacher leap frog Mika Hakkinen in the round of pit-stops and eventually clinch the race win, his 3rd driver’s championship and his 1st with Ferrari.
  3. 2004 French Grand Prix: Michael’s 7th and last championship win. He won in Magny Cours by a mile and of course his infamous steering wobble on the main straight after clinching the title.
  4. 1995 Belgian Grand Prix: Typical Belgian GP, wet in the first two sections and dry on the last! Schumacher on racing slicks vs Hill on wet weather tyres. While Hill got the better of the two, Schumacher’s wet-weather driving skills amazed one and all.
  5. 2003 Italian Grand Prix: Schumacher clinched pole position in Italy in front of the Scuderia and how!
  6. 2003 Australian Grand Prix: Yet another stunning display of qualifying pace.

There are many more that I can go on and on about – his victories in Spa, Monaco and the other circuits. Records that everyone can dream off – but only a few might get close to, let alone beat them.
91 race wins, 76 fastest laps, 1441 career points, 7 World Championships, 154 podiums and the unlucky no. 13, for the most GP wins in a season – are a few of his records. (inspiring, eh?)
On that note, I am hoping this blog does what I wish for it to do – i.e. simplify the world of Formula1 for Indian fans. Keep reading & keep commenting!

PS:  This introduction is dedicated to my cousin brother Sohil, who left for heavenly abode on 23rd December 2010. A Ferrari fan, Sohil liked Schumacher’s driving style and we did share a few good battles on track. The 2002 season however bored him out of Formula1. A budding film director, Sohil was a much better driver on the roads than me. Amen!

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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