Why F1 legend Michael Schumacher is an emotion


File Photo of Michael Schumacher
Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany celebrates on the podium after winning the French Grand Prix at the Magny Cours circuit on July 21, 2002. Schumacher won for the fifth time the Formula One World Champion title.

For a man who flirted with death almost every second on the racing track in his brilliant Formula One career, who would have imagined Michael Schumacher would spend a decade in privacy with his wife. No, this is not about a romantic story, really, but how the seven-time F1 world champion has been kept away from all of us following his skiing accident on this date in Meribel, France.

Anyone who has followed this high-octane sport over the decades will vouch there was only one Ayrton Senna, killed following an infamous crash in Imola almost three decades ago. At the same time, when one talks of Schumi, as Michael Schumacher is known, it’s sheer tragedy that a racer who had suffered just a broken leg once in his career filled with thrill and spill would end up in this sort of isolation. Stories of him having sustained a brain injury in the ski accident is well known. However, in the ten years since that date, none knows what state the legend is in. Privacy bordering on a jail like environment is what his family has sought, with wife Corinne attending to him along with a medical team.

Back to the champion who danced on the tracks with speed, skills and daring overtaking moves, Schumi was a class apart. To have won 91 Grand Prix out of 306 he competed in is a record which people still romance. Yes, F1 has seen more champions come, like Seb Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and current champion Max Verstappen, almost unstoppable.

This piece is not about who is the greatest nor is it about the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) debate in F1. This is an attempt to piece together the fan moment this writer has associated with Michael Schumacher. As a speed junkie, F1 is not for the pusillanimous. At the same time, my first love with Schumi was watching the daring German scorch the tracks and devour miles in F1 circuits around the world on television.

Watching F1 on TV and watching F1 live is so different. Having romanced a legend for so long, my first look at the champion was at the Sepang circuit on the outskirts of the Kuala Lumpur international airport, almost two decades ago. It was a sponsored trip and for me the thrill was just to see two people at the wheels – Schumi and India’s own F1 star Narain Karthikeyan.

To be sure, watching Narain at the back of the race was sad, since he had a lousy F1 Jordan car which did not even have the basic upgrades. Perhaps, it did not even have the DRS (drag reduction system). Narain was ridiculed but I was more than happy to see the God of F1, Schumi,  race.

This is a sport, if you are sitting in the circuit on a corner, in a nano second the car passes you. Each time King Schumi’s car came, my neck would strain.

At the end of the race, Schumi was fit and Fernando Alonso had emerged champion, but I landed up with a strained neck in Sepang! The post race press conferences are great, where you get to see the legends. If you are lucky and have access to the paddock, you can “get a peep” at the drivers. Engines are being roared to life, ear drums splitting, the F1 beast being “tuned.” This apart, to see Schumi in his racing outfit was such a joy.

Almost seven years later, when the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida hosted the F1 GP two years, I got to see Schumi. He was then past peak, having shifted from the Prancing Horse (Ferrari) to Mercedes. Schumi posed with scribes, signed autographs and even gave away a Merc cap. I got “close” to him where I could see the legend from just hand-shaking distance.

Super fit, smart, chiseled frame, eyes focused, to see Schumi was a delight. And that smile, it was radiant, almost like the way he dared to overtake in a wet race. Some media guys nudged me, “stop being a fan” they said.

Come on, if I was not a fan, why would I be a sportswriter. Do I want to see the latest pictures of Michael Schumacher?


I want to remember his red outfit, the Ferrari roaring and tearing up the miles below. I want to remember a racer who spilled his guts every second at the wheels, changing gears, get the racing line right and Vroom to pole or the chequered flag.

I have never consciously made an attempt to see even one image of the ski accident. Why? Two reasons, first, there are none in public domain. Two, I cannot cry. For me, Schumi is an emotion. Forever.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *