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What were Schumacher’s best years?
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What were Schumacher’s best years?
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Oct 2010   |  1:28 pm GMT  |  251 comments

I’ve been interested to read some of the comments about Michael Schumacher following on from my post the other day.

Some of you have got into a debate about what were Schumacher’s best years and it struck me that we should enlarge that debate.


There are several phases to choose from; the early Benetton years where he challenged Senna, won in his first full season aged 23 and won two world titles and 19 victories.

Then there were the hungry years at Ferrari from 1996 to 1999, where the title eluded him but he had some amazing races. He won 16 times during these years.


The 2000 to 2004 seasons where he finally won the title for Ferrari and then went on to be more or less unbeatable were the most successful, obviously with 49 wins.

And then there were the two odd seasons in 2005 and 2006, the final years with eight wins and one final tilt at the title against younger opposition.

I’d be interested to know what people think.

Just to be clear on one thing from my post last week: when I was talking about how in the Ferrari days he was able to get everything how he wanted it, with loads of testing and tyres that he could develop, I wasn’t suggesting that this is why he was successful in his first career. He would have been successful anyway.

But it’s one of the key reasons why he was SO successful.

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251 Comments
  1. martin says:

    Not entirely sure when his driving was at its absolute peak but as a viewer he was best to watch in that 1996-99 phase when he used to win by putting in the consistent fast laps to make Ross Brawn’s pit strategies work.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Fully agree. Probably we saw the best Schummie as a driver in those years, I am not sure.

      But considering it as an armchair fan, the period 00 – 04 was terribly boring.

      1. Frenchie says:

        In 2000 and 2003, we had to wait until the last race to find out who’d be champion.

        McLaren’s reliability was a shocker at the beginning of the 2000 campaign. This gifted Michael the title despite an inferior car.

        In 03, Michael had to put a good fight with both Kimi and Juan-Pablo. It is true by that time a lot of people wanted either the duper fast Finn or the flamboyant Columbian to win but Michael won it (much to my disappointment that year – always loved JP).

        I will have to agree with 02 and especially 04 – boring boring boring.

      2. TheGreatCornholio says:

        Those years were the ones that destroyed my love for F1 and i didn’t return til the latter part of the 2007 season. I believe it’s also tainted my view of MS. I would enjoy seeing him have a good 2011 as a 6 way WDC fight would be even better and all the other guys would rather beat him when he’s competitive:)

    2. Hans Jørgen Strøm says:

      I agree with you. it was very impressive how he and Brawn was able to, several times to outfox the williams cars, which was a, as you say, a superior car and win races. though he didn`t won the championship between 96-99, he was always in the fight, except for 99 when he broke his leg.

    3. RickeeBoy says:

      Agreed – I liked him 96 -99 with more raw fight. Saw him in the Sauber in 1990 at Le Mans and he was simply superb at 2.00am – A revelation and brilliant to watch aggressively attacking corners and 4 wheel drifts ( driving it like a kart ) when every other driver was just banging in the long laps doing the night shift. ( Totally wrong for long distance but those things stay with you and a bit obvious the kid was special)

    4. Frenchie says:

      Maybe minus 1997. I wasn’t a big fan of his move on Damon Hill in ’94 and that move on Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez ’97 was probably the worse we’ve seen with Michael.

      I will always regret that we just didn’t see how good he was in 1999. I remember the surprise fair and square win of Irvine in Australia. Will always be a ‘what could have been’ type of season.

      Of that period, 1998 was probably the most interesting year. The McLaren was so superior at the beginning of the year it is beggars belief he could even fight for the WDC.

    5. F1Fanatic says:

      No no schumacher’s best years in my opinion were at benetton because that’s when his driving was at it’s peak. However i prefered watching him 05-06 when his teamate wasn’t there to make him points. I think that’s when we saw the real schumi and it was great to see him fight for his life out there

  2. Piter says:

    I think the period of 94-2000
    It was the absolute top of his genius skills.
    Contrary to what people may say he was awesome in the inferior car.
    16 wins in a Ferrari 96-99 when most of the season his package was worse than williams/mclaren.

    Cant wait for 2011 and michael’s return to front of the grid :D

    1. Empty Oil Can says:

      lucky I didn’t read this comment with my 6year old daughter looking over my sholder…. Language please Moderator.
      Thanks.

      1. Empty Oil Can says:

        James,
        Are we now allowed to use foul language on this site?
        If so I’ll have to stop my daughter reading it.
        I am refering to Piter’s post.

      2. James Allen says:

        Apologies. That must have slipped through the moderator’s net. We will delete it.

  3. Lukeh says:

    Between the end of 2006 to the start of 2010, during the period he was retired. I enjoyed that time.

    1. Edd says:

      Haha – he was a bit too dominating towards the end of this period. It was a welcome relief when he stepped aside and let the likes of Hamilton have a shot at winning. I recall Bernie Eccleston suggesting a handicap system might be needed as he was so fast.

    2. nickname says:

      Wow I didn’t know that there was a fan who would call the era where f1 has gone through the most pr-damaging time as their fondest in recent history. So spy-gate, crash-gate, mosley sex scandal and the breakaway threat were very pleasing for you to see in f1, that says a lot about the kind of fan you are, the one the sport doesent need!

      1. Richard Dreyer says:

        I don’t think Lukeh was talking about F1 as a whole, it was just a joke about Schumacher!

      2. Bradley Sargeant says:

        It was clearly just a joke by Lukeh, anyway the period in question was without doubt a great time for f1 but it was despite the scandals mentioned above not because of them. 2007-2009 saw some of the greatest races and exciting championship battles I have ever seen and I have been a motorsport fan my whole life, and it is continuing now. In my opinion we are currently being treated to truly golden era and I hope it continues.

      3. Surya says:

        Totally agree!!!

      4. devilsadvocate says:

        2009? you mean the season where Brawn took advantage of a loophole in the regs. and then more or less dropped out of the championship fight with their number 2 driver outscoring their main man on almost every occasion when all the other teams caught on? Only winning by merit of a bunch of early performances while the rest of the field was handicapped? yeah that was definitely a breathtaking season. Vettel and Webber breaking the long string of Brawn lights to flag 1-2′s and almost stealing the title from Jenson was the ONLY reason 2009 wasnt a total loss.

    3. Rich says:

      You beat me too it! I was going to say the same as they are the only recent years he hasn’t been cheating in F1

      1. Surya says:

        Ha! Ha! Agree again!!!

    4. JEEEPp says:

      lol! too funny! Only MS would have that polarising effect on F1 fans..

    5. Buck61 says:

      Here, here! I agree totally. Hard to believe I am a Ferrari fan and never liked him. I think he was and still is like a spoiled child when he doesn’t get his way. Be careful not to be in front of him because he will just bump you off track (and his fans think that is great racing). Bullshit!!!

  4. roberto says:

    I think in terms of battling with adversity, 1996 (a dog of a car which he drove masterfully), 2003 (brilliant driving in indianapolis and superb handle of politics due Bridgestone poor performamce) and 2006 (nearly won due to a faulty ferrari engine – after +/- 50 ra0es without engine failure), he won 2003 on his worst race ever, but those years he showed class and skills that put him on a level above everybody else

  5. glen says:

    James,
    Murray walker used to say that the cream always rises to the top. I think this applies to between 2000 to 2004.
    The other team & drivers were operating under the same rules and spending as much money.
    In my opinion shuey is one of the best pilots in F1.
    Like Piquet snr, he is fading in his later years. I imagine next year he will still get some good results. maybe have a shot at the title.
    Glen

    1. Mark M says:

      I like the unintended irony because it was schumi that was piquet and last team mate

  6. Andrew Watson says:

    I am not a Schumacher fan. I think he has cheated his way to the 7 WDC’s So for me his best years had to be his first years. Here he was not the No 1 driver with the No 2 driver simply there to support him Eddie Irvine holding the field up whilxt Schumi pulled away. Having the Tyres developed specifically for the Ferrari Cheating Hill, Villeneuve, hidden launch control software etc. So I don’t count the Ferrari years as good driving years. His ability to build and motivate the team brilliant driving No so Benetton Years Best

    1. Mike says:

      Can’t disagree with any of that.

    2. Lilla My says:

      I can’t agree with your first sentence. I don’t know how people can say that Schumacher cheated to get all his titles. I may not have the knowledge of the inside look of F1, but I can’t see anybody cheating so many times. You can cheat to get one title or two if you’re really lucky, but I just don’t see it happening 7 times, physically impossible IMO. He was simply better than anybody else in using and bending rules to his needs. And you may like him or not but you can’t deny he was (unfortunatelly in the past tense – maybe next years will prove me wrong, though I somehow don’t see that happening) a brilliant driver.

      In my opinion his best years were 96-99. 5 championships in a raw is a great achievement, but I think winning in a car that is not the best is something that makes you stand out from the rest.
      2000-05 were the times of his dominance and though you can argue if he was dominant fairly or not you still have to give it to him and appreciate the ability to use every single opportunity to get what he wanted.

      1. Mark M says:

        Read my post lower down

      2. Lilla My says:

        P.S. I would only like to add I’m no Schumi fan (in fact, I’m quite far from being one), I just try to be more or less objective.

      3. George says:

        I am sorry but I don’t agree he cheated his way to become a champion… there are far too many variables to become champion:
        - Variable 1: the races
        - Variable 2: the point system
        - Variable 3: your own team and car
        - Variable 4: the competition
        Which means that you have to cheat on each race, adjust the point system so it benefits you, have a perfect car and buy or own your competition.
        Impossible to cheat…

    3. Bevan says:

      I agree,hidden traction control in partnership with a convicted cheat for the 1st phase,barge em off the track for the 2nd phase & Ferrari international assistance (FIA) for the 3rd phase with assistance such as mid season tyre rule changes that suit only one team etc.I know another 7 time WDC who’s won everyone of his titles with zero controversy & nothing but guts & glory-Sebastian Loeb,a true legend.

    4. Damian Johnson says:

      I would agree that his achievements were outweighed by his controversies including the numerous times FIA came to the aid of Ferrari such as being allowed to win the 1998 Silverstone Grandprix by crossing the chequered flag while completing a 10 second drive through penalty in the pits (not the full distance of a pit lane).

      1. mtb says:

        “a 10 second drive through”

        Here I was thinking that it was a 10 second stop-go penalty! I am not exactly sure how a 10 second drive through would be applied!

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        As you well know, the penalty for a “stop go” is not just the standing time at a lollipop, but the time taken in and out of the pits. Schumacher is the only driver that has been allowed to win a grand prix by avoiding the full penalty!

      3. mtb says:

        The penalty is termed a stop-go penalty, a drive-through penalty is a different form of penalty. As Ronnie D. often said, “The devil is in the detail.” ;)

        Incidentally, I thought that the penalty was invalid as the stewards failed to notify the team within a specified time-frame (20 mins I think) of making their decision.

    5. mtb says:

      Wasn’t the launch control allegedly used in 1994 (when he was driving for Benetton)?

      As for tyres being designed specifically for Ferrari, as time progressed both Bridgestone and Michelin designed compounds specifically for teams.

      1. Mark M says:

        Think he was on about the shoulder profile of the Michelin tyres used in the early 2000′s

      2. Mark says:

        This FIA assistance is not all it seems,
        remember Brazil 03 Schumacher had a wet set up during qualifying for the race, no one else did, but they allowed every one else to change,that hurt his chances,
        Also the last minute change of qualifying to a single lap really hurt the Ferrari car that year.
        And don`t forget the change in the points system to stop Michael getting a bigger gap on the rest.

  7. richie675 says:

    I’m just about fortunate enough to remember a great deal of races from Schumacher’s career and for me I think the greatest time was in 2006 when, against an incredibly strong competitor in the shape of Alonso, Michael seemed to be racing at the pinnacle of his talent every single race.

    Even his Monaco incident is a perfect example of Michael at the peak of his powers – overstepping that fine line that separates those with the will to succeed and those with the will to succeed at any cost.

    Finally, at Brazil, 10 points down and in need of a faultless drive, I remember the extraordinary overtaking manoeuvres on the first few laps, the puncture that put him last with just two thirds to go, and then systematically hunting down EVERYBODY to finish 4th – including taking down Kimi.

    He was brilliant and controversial throughout his whole career (and still is – well, controversial at least) but ’06 was his best year, despite missing out, just, on an unprecedented 8th title.

    1. mtb says:

      He made quite a few mistakes during the ’06 season, which suggested to me that he was past his peak by then.

      1. For Sure says:

        Then Alonso must have passed his prime by this year.

      2. mtb says:

        Maybe, but he is still doing alright for himself!

      3. zack says:

        yeah i agree i think he lost it a little after 2004 too old when you are at such a high level im sure it takes its toll in my opinion the best driver there will ever be

    2. Motser says:

      I agree completely. In spite of being head and shoulders above everyone else he still had that driven need to win at all costs.

      The occasional mistakes and oversteps showed that this great man was still human in spite of all his amazing achievements.

    3. Alex says:

      The 2006 was probably the best duel between champions I have ever watched. I am still sad that Michael lost, but there is no shame to lose to Fernando, also an awesome and very determined driver.

    4. gareth says:

      By the end of 2006 Schumacher I believe Schumacher was dring at his highest level.
      Great drives in Monza and China. On course to win in Suzuka without the engine failure. And great never give up drive in Brazil.

      In terms of outright speed, look at his Qualifying 2 times in Hungary, Turkey and Suzuka that year – setting lap times a second faster than anyone else.

  8. Damon says:

    Personally I think his best years were from 1992-2004. The man was unbelievable. Some of the wins he carved out in inferior equipment and the odds seemingly stacked against him are too numerous to list. It’s a sad fact that most people seem to forget these victories and just concentrate on the times he had the best package i.e. 2002 & 2004.

    I for one can’t wait to see hat he can do next year, as I have a feeling he’s going to make a lot of people eat their words.

    1. JimmiC says:

      Damon! Glad to see you two are getting along fine now..

    2. Surya says:

      The man’s talent was/is totally undeniable to any fan! The sad part is that he stepped over the line more than once, and in such a manner, that it leaves indelible marks on his career.

      1. Alex says:

        Many drivers are like that. Senna, may his soul rest in peace, was also controversial. Alonso now is too a polarizing figure. Many drivers were too accused of dirty driving or manipulations in the pits, Piquet, Prost, Mansell, Hamilton, Vettel. With MS everything is bigger, the good and the bad. That’s all.

  9. Ryan Almond says:

    Although as a fan of Michael, 2000 was an incredible year to finally get there for Ferrari, some of his displays in the oh-so-near late 90′s were incredible. For example Spain 96,Spa 1997, Hungary 1998, Suzuka fightback in 1998 and making the rest look like monkeys in Malaysia 99 after months off with a broken leg were purely incredible. He has always been brilliant to watch but this time was the most enthralling for me especially with finally achieving the championship for Ferrari in 2000. To then be able to create an era of championships for them shows just what vision he had and I doubt any bookmaker in the land could have predicted that.

    1. David Turnedge says:

      I agree. Malaysia 99 and his return from a broken leg made you wonder if Mika would have taken the Championship without Schumi missing a few races… Irvine couldn’t believe his luck andm from memory, was quoted as saying not only was Michael the best No 1 driver, he was also the best No 2.

  10. Adam Hayward says:

    Because he was more driven in EVERY aspect than everyone else. This included getting the best team of people to build him the best team. Mika was his closest rival, and was an awesome rival. Its all diffrent now with a much richer level of talent.

    I’m not a fan of his, but i would love to see him back at the front.

    His detirmination facinates me and i want him to mix it up with Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Webber etc again!!

  11. PaulL says:

    Obviously depends what you qualify as best.

    I think his most praiseworthy and meaningful achievements were between 1991-1993 and then 1997-2000. But his personal performances were always consistently extraordinary such that the turnover of lesser rivals competing for top honours made evaluating Schu’s performances especially difficult.

    James Hunt was always a hard man to impress as a commentator, I thought. He was critical of Senna’s slow rate of maturity as a driver in the 1980s, he was hard on Mansell’s mistakes, Piquet’s motivation etc. But he was very impressed both with Schumacher’s speed an young-age wisdom. I think he said at one point he was making too many mistakes but in general praised Schumacher’s talent and application. I found that telling.

  12. unoc says:

    An interesting question… one which can be made even more interesting with some additional piece of information (for those who have forgotten)..

    His early years at benetton while successful also were filled with controversy – enough to get its own wiki page!

    His early middle years, although less successful, were still aided by team orders from ferrari. He had another go at ‘wack the championship competitor’.. and failed.

    Middle years saw him with massive support from ferrari and bridgestone and team mate and his comically reliable car (unlike barichello’s for some reason). But with almost no competition. McLaren provided little competition, never being consistant enough. Montoya @ williams was the only one to really have a proper crack but was without the backing of ferrari.

    Later years were schumacher being schumacher, stopping at monaco etc – but failing to win overall.

    1st was the most controversal, 2nd saw him working the hardest for no reward, 3rd successful and 4th defining.

    So I’d have to give it to 3rd as he did what he had to do, his role was to use the equipment provided to do what it was more than capable of – winning.

    Saying all that, it comes down to defition. Best implies greater than normal performing ability, and when schumacher won a title he either had massive support to make the car for him or had the rules broken in his favour.

    To me, he was never at a respectable best, only ever successful

    1. For Sure says:

      The last two out of 3 British world champions won with far superior machinery and had far greater advantage compare to what he got.

      Lewis also did have second driver (not a bad thing IMO) and was in a similar situation to Michael as he was competing with Massa who is a nice guy but not a real competition according to your logic.

      And the same could be applied to Mikka/Alonso as they did have a support teammate.
      In Alonso’s case, I suspect he did get the similar “massive” support from Michellin in 2005/6

      So based on your logic, you don’t respect anyone who won championship in the past 15 years including Lewis, Button, Damon, JV, Mikka, Alonso and Schumacher.

    2. mtb says:

      I think that the team orders business has always been overplayed in certain quarters. I can’t imagine why that would be the case…

      In 11 seasons at Ferrari, his team-mates were asked to move aside for him on how many occasions?

    3. Diarmuid says:

      So average drivers win races like Spa 95, Spain 1996, Spa 97, Monaco 97, Hungary 98, (Spa 98 would have been up there but lets not get into that). How many other drivers have a list of wins that impressive? Of the current drivers I only rate Hamiltons British win in the same category as any of those. Utterly dominant performances in cars that were by no means class of the field. Schumacher did it repeatedly in the mid to late 90s when he wasnt in the best car.

      So in answer to your question James. His best years were 1995-00.

      1. Frenchie says:

        Hamilton’s win in Monaco in 08 and Alonso’s win at Imola in ’05 are of the same caliber I think.

      2. Diarmuid says:

        Well, Hamilton only won Monaco 98 because he punctured his tyre after crashing into the barrier which resulted in him having the perfect strategy. Still a good drive though. I think his win in Fuji was up there as he was flawless in horrendous conditions.

        Alonso’s defensive driving in Imola 05 was pretty impressive but personally I dont think it is of the same caliber.

    4. Damian Johnson says:

      Schumacher has always benefitted hugely from aggresive team orders at Ferrari, operating from the very start of the season whereby Irvine/Barrichelo would act as his rear gunner to slow all other drivers. Other teams were placed at a disadvantage as they would respect both drivers and so never employed the same team orders tactics used by Ferrari until the very end of the season when one of the drivers WDC prospects had been eliminated.

      1. mtb says:

        “…operating from the very start of the season whereby Irvine/Barrichelo would act as his rear gunner to slow ALL other drivers.”

        I never realised that Eddie and Rubens were that fast!

        I remember Irvine holding up Villeneuve during the race at Suzuka in 1997 (the second-last round of that season) and Fisichella at Barcelona in 1998, but don’t recall too many other occasions.

        As for Rubens, I am not sure of any occasions where he played that role. If anything, it was Michael who held people up for him. eg. Barcelona 2000.

        The fact of the matter is that both drivers were demolished by Schumacher in almost every race that they entered as his team-mate. Hence Irvine’s comment about being team-mates to Schumacher was like being hit on the head with a cricket bat – you give your all, only to see him go out and defeat you at a canter.

  13. Alexx says:

    Schumi isnt angry enough about the way he is performing, in the old days, he would be unhappy when he lost and that made him rude to the public and media. He was totally focussed on winning.

    Now he accepts not being first. That i believe is what seperates his performance. Its more personal enjoyment of driving now, than to achieve results.

    His best driving days where 1994 – 2000, when he made a bigger sacrifice, and was on the risk limit more than other drivers, to achieve his results.

    1. jay harte says:

      agree with you 100%
      micheal in the old days would have nothing to say to reporters if he qualified further back than 5th or 6th ,and would vanish from the press without trace .nowadays he is happy and smiling even after a terrible performance .
      this is showing us he is just having a laugh these days .
      we will never see the old master destroying the opposition again lets face it when was the last time a 41 year old had any sort of success in f1 ,its a young mans game now ,but i guess you cant tell michael that .

      1. theothercoldone says:

        He’s certainly not got much left to prove, has he – but I think he’s still as competetive as ever. Just ask Rubens how close that pitwall was again…

      2. redalltheway says:

        the hungary thing with rubens shows michaels amazing talent. moving across the race track at such a speed only to leave a gap 2mm wider than a williams……precision driving.

  14. Mark Jenkins says:

    I think that Michael’s best years were as a catalyst for change in Ferrari from 1996 to 2000. During that period up to his world first world championship with the Scuderia he showed that he was not only a great driver, but also a great motivator and inspiration for the whole organisation. It wouldn’t have happened without people like Luca di Montezemolo, Jean Todt and Ross Brawn, but Michael played a significant part.

  15. Alex' says:

    IMO his best year was 1998. he produces on an inferior car some fantastics attacks. This is the Schu’ I wanna see next year.
    Yea definitly 98′

    1. Frenchie says:

      I agree. 1998 has got to be his best year.

  16. Laurent Smith says:

    Early Benetton years:
    While Senna was still around, there was some doubt up and down the pit lane about the legality of the Benetton car, refueling system etc, confirmed by the fact Schumacher was disqualified several times in 94 and 95 (excessive plank wear etc).
    After Senna’s death, Schumacher basically won by default as, with Mansell and Prost having also left recently, F1 was left without any experienced drivers with talent.
    Some very young drivers compared to Schumacher (Hill, Hakkinen) showed hints of talent and Schumacher had serious trouble beating the inexperienced Damon Hill and resorted to the controversial manoeuvres that have become famous now (Adelaide).

    1996 to 1999:
    His performance reflected the appalling way Ferrari was run in the 80′s and 90′s, basically ending Prost’s career, totally destroying Jean Alesi’s and almost forcing Mansell to quit.

    2000 to 2004:
    Ferrai basically became Benetton in red and the winning started again with the same dubious tactics. Schumacher was the master of an sad era after 1994 where F1 lost its identity as a the absolute master division of hardcore, respectful racing and became a strategic pit stop exercise and political game. Schumacher symbolises everything that went wrong with F1 after it’s glory years of the early 90′s.

    2005, 2006 and later:
    Finally some talents and personalities started arriving in F1: Montoya, Alonso, Hamilton and Schumacher’s time started coming to an end.

    In 2010, with F1 returning to what is should be, a decent crop of drivers, Schumacher is but an annoying reminder of F1′s darkest years. Schumacher’s best years will come when he finally cuts any kind of involvement with the sport.

    1. Anil says:

      This is one of the most awful posts i think i’ve ever read.

      I’m not even a massive schumacher fan but good lord the man did incredible things and apart from Mika (and occasionally Lewis and Kimi) was the only driver to really make you sit up in awe of his genius.

      You say he struggled the beat Damon Hill? Are you kidding? Schumacher missed races in 94 and was clearly the faster the driver of the two. Hill even admitted in an interview a few years back that in 95, the Williams was a much faster car but ‘michael ran hoops around us’.

      As for his best year, I’m going to say 97/98. Back then their wasn’t a tonne of downforce compared to nowadays and it really came down to driver skill, and some of the things he did back then were astounding. Pushing the clearly superior Williams in 97 to the final race is something I haven’t really seen since and in 98 he was something else, almost beating the Mclaren and undoubtably the driver of the year alongside Mika.

      2000 was also spectacular, no doubt in my mind he would have died to win it that year. Suzuka just showed how much pace he could find when the Macca was probably the faster car again.

      James, I’ve always thought peoples reputation of Michael seems to have diminished over time to some people as they look back at 2002 and 2004 and apply the ‘he only won because he had the best car’ type argument to his success, when clearly he was one of the few drivers to actually win in an inferior car. Do you think if he had retired at the end of 2001 he would be remembered just as well, if not better? It’s frustrating to see people dismiss his talent and accomplishments, just as people don’t consider Kimi one of the best drivers of the last decade when he’s probably closer to alonso and Michael than most think.

      1. James Allen says:

        Well some people take a polarised view as they do of Alonso or Hamilton. One has to take that into consideration. He has won 7 WDCs and that speaks for itself. I don’t think he needs to prove anything to anyone.

      2. Frenchie says:

        Maybe Laurent is Jacques Villeuneuve in disguise. :-)

    2. JimmiC says:

      “Some very young drivers compared to Schumacher (Hill, Hakkinen) showed hints of talent and Schumacher had serious trouble beating the inexperienced Damon Hill.”

      Not so sure about any of that. Hill debuted in 1992 only a year after Schumi and is older by nine years. Likewise, Hakkinen is only a year older than Michael and debuted around the same time.

    3. mtb says:

      “…Schumacher had serious trouble beating the inexperienced Damon Hill”

      Could the fact that he was excluded from four races (one-quarter of the season) have had any influence on the issue?

      1. Frenchie says:

        Good point. I completely forgot about that.

    4. Frenchie says:

      Prost ended his career after winning the title with Williams in 93. He sat out 92 after being sacked from Ferrari (with two races to go) for calling his car a lorry if memory serves me well.

      Mansell left because of Prost – not Ferrari.

      I’ll agree with Jean Alesi’s career although he could have made a name for himself at BEnetton and he didn’t.

      Lastly, Hamilton was in GP2 in 06. :-)

      1. Laurent Smith says:

        Prost’s career ended 3/4 of the way through 1990.

        In 1991 he basically taxied around a few tracks sulking his way to retirement.

        He sat out 1992 then returned to “win” in 1993 but he himself admits it was a complete farce. Even Prost admits Ayrton just humiliated everyone else with inferior equipment.

      2. Frenchie says:

        I agree that Ayrton did humiliate everyone at Donington in 93 but for the rest, that’d be the first time I hear that Prost himself admit such a thing.
        We’ll have to agree to disagree on that as in my eyes, he was still driving great in 91 despite that pig of a Ferrari he had (both versions).

  17. Mike says:

    How many races and titles would he have won IF he had not pretty much been in a one car team at Ferrari, with a team mate playing second fiddle?

    He won the title in 1994 by taking Damon Hill out and then in 1995 with alledged software irregilarities.

    If he was that good he would have driven around this cars problems and at least matched Nico.

    1. For Sure says:

      Wow I sense a lot of nonconstructive criticism here.Just curious, do you really think he was just an average driver who had some software, a teammate who slowed down every race to let him win 91 gps?

      1. Tommy K. says:

        yes.

    2. mtb says:

      Weren’t the alleged software irregularities in 1994?

      The Williams was far and away the car of the 1995 season, as Jonathan Palmer pointed out when both Hill and Coulthard ended up in the gravel within a lap of each other at Suzuka that year. Hill’s poor performances that year resulted in him being dumped by Williams when his contract was up at the end of the following season.

      Without Hill’s apparent propensity for colliding with Schumacher in 1995, the latter would have had a far more dominant season.

      1. Damian Johnson says:

        It was Schumacher that had the infamous record for being involved in collisions in the final race of a season that determined the outcome of the world championship – Damon Hill (1994) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997). One could could conclude that Schumacher was very lucky to escape disqualification from both of those WDC wins.

      2. Ben says:

        I seem to remember Villeneuve winning the 97 title…

  18. Dave Aston says:

    2002 was his peak I think. Super fit, less pressure after a few titles for Ferrari, great package, and the same natural speed and agression and racecraft. I really think breaking his leg in 1999 had one positive effect, as it did for Webber, ie it forced a really motivated guy to sit still for a while. That said, my favourite Schumacher year was 2000, and Suzuka that year was his best moment. Winning it for Ferrari-incredible. Anyone who thinks he’s a robot should listen to the audio between he and Brawn after he crossed the line in that race. This year has been disappointing, but I can never write him off-it took Lauda a few years of being beaten in the points by John Watson before he won his third…

    1. mtb says:

      I think that his decline began after the 2002 season. After 2002, the errors began to increase.

  19. Rafael says:

    For me, Michael’s best years would have to be ’00 and ’01. I think, by winning the title in 2000 he reasserted himself as F1′s top dog, and showed everyone that he was for real. And then 2001 was when he really sealed the deal and became the king of an F1 era, securing his place as one of the sport’s greatest – if not THE greatest- drivers. Absolutely legendary.

    I don’t buy it when I read/hear people say that for a top driver, Michael makes too many mistakes and/or he was only champion so many times bec. he had the best car. First, one of the reasons he was so good was because he was never afraid to explore his limits and second, as his ex-manager, Willy Weber, once said “in F1 you make your own luck”.

  20. I luv chicken says:

    Schumacher’s best years?–2007-2009. At least they were, for me.

    1. Mike says:

      Brilliant

      1. Bobby says:

        I’m rather enjoying the pasting his legacy is taking in 2010. Make no mistake, he’s an above average driver but the stats flatter him grotesquely. He’s no Senna, Prost or Clarke, he’s no Fangio either. Of the current field I rate him below Alonso and Hamilton, Vettel will surpass him in my eyes soon too. Hope he sticks around next year to see him humbled some more.

  21. A Newman says:

    2005-2006
    Third in 2005 was best of the rest and an amazing result considering the car he had that year. Finally, 2006 and his final race in Brazil where he stormed through the field following his tire problem. A great fight back that year to challenge Alonso.

  22. Magnafw07 says:

    I was only a young’un but for my mind the best of Schumacher was the early Ferrari years. I will never forget staying up late and watching him get on the podium despite losing most of his gearbox.

    Absolutely amazing driving.

  23. Marion says:

    2007-2009

  24. John85 says:

    Definatley the ‘Hungry Years’ 1996-1999. He managed to turn around a Ferrari team which had been woeful by their standards in the preceeding years. He didnt challenge the title muuch in 96 but his race in spain when he was stuck in 5th gear was truely exceptional. in 97 he had turned the team into a title contender, as in 98 and 99. The williams in 97 and Mclarens in 98 and 99 were far superior cars and schumacher pushed them all the way in 97 and 98, and would have done in 99 if hadnt been for his unfortunate accident at silverstone. Even when he did come back he was a class above everyone.

    I feel schumacher was amazing, but never really tested. What would have happened if Senna wasnt tragically killed? was there another stand out driver from 94 until 2004? only hakkinen comes to mind but even so he wasnt on the same page as senna, prost etc. Schumacher clearly had a fantastic natural ability, but unfortunatley was in the wrong generation!

    1. Mark M says:

      Think you will find it was the 95 bentton that stuck in gear 96 was the masterclass in wet driving

      1. Treebeard says:

        Actually he was stuck in gear in 94. In 95 he won the race with Herbert on the podium too even after taking the rear jack with after a pit stop!

      2. John B says:

        My mistake! yep, 96 in the wet, still a fanatstic drive!

    2. Ajay says:

      If Senna were still alive, odds are that Schumi wouldn’t have jumped to Ferrari as early as ’96. He would’ve probably stayed with Benetton till Senna retired. At which point if Adrian Newey had switched to McLaren, Schumi would still have to stay with Benetton to remain competitive.

      My guess is that Ferrari’s renaissance wouldn’t have happened in the ’90s. Sure, Jean Todt would have whipped the team into a half-competitive unit. But 6 constructor’s championships on the trot? I don’t think so.

  25. earnst says:

    i think Micheal was at his peak during 2001 season.

    He is a living legend and i dont think anyone will ever get close to his perfection.
    Pity that there is not a single human being who can resist to the simple rule of nature, he is old now and not a match to young guys anymore.

  26. Fulveo Ballabeo says:

    “…in the Ferrari days he was able to get everything how he wanted it, with loads of testing and tyres that he could develop”.

    Nonetheless, he looks decidedly average without a car, team, and tyres built around him. Surely that can’t be a coincidence?

    That said, if I had 7 world championships and $500M+, rather than humor the critics, I’d be enjoying my racing and laughing all the way to the bank!

    1. For Sure says:

      Interesting, so do you seriously you think that a 25 years old Schumacher is the same as 41 years old guy who is just an average driver who happened to have more resources? How about Spain 95 where he stuck in 5th gear in finished second? How about 90s Ferrari years where he won races?

      1. Fulveo Ballabeo says:

        Without question, Schu is a great. With some stunning drives throughout his career. But I can’t help wondering, how great? Without car/team/tyres built around him, and without a compliant teammate, does he win championships? Absolutely. Does he win 7? Erm, probably not. Especially on current form.

        Then again, he’s got a almost $1B in the bank and a chateau in Switzerland, so an equally fair question is: does it matter? If I were in his shoes, it wouldn’t matter to me! But clearly by looking at the boards, it matters to the fans.

      2. For Sure says:

        “But I can’t help wondering, how great? Without car/team/tyres built around him, and without a compliant teammate, does he win championships? Absolutely. Does he win 7? Erm, probably not. Especially on current form.”

        Firstly, the most overlooked part of his career is that he took the hard path by joining Ferrari. Can you imagine what he would have done to Damon/JV by joining Williams?
        Can you imagine how many he would have won if he kept changing teams who produce the best car? Almost every great champion tried to join top teams to drive top car and he didn’t.

        As for the teammate, more or less, every great champion in the past 15 years got support from his teammate.Lewis, Mikka, Alonso and Schumi.

        Like you said, he made too much money. He was a brick-layer son and didn’t have much support. He did what most people can’t do – plain and simple fact.

    2. Drkaks says:

      2003 – 2005 – 2006… Were his best seasons I ve seen.. 03 he out in some scintilating drives and deserved his championship.. 05 saw him push his abilities to max, remember he had put two better cars behind him when championship ended and one championship winning car.. 06 , came bak from nowhere took the championship lead and them blew his engine..

      But my fav is 98..

      Micheal .. Always the greatest

  27. Mon Pen says:

    Why do I get the feeling that the answer to the question “What were Schumacher’s best years” will not be “2010, 2011, or, actually, anything starting with a 201X.

    Poor man. Only slightly out-ridiculed by Mansell in that silly insurance ad.

    Oh how are the mighty fallen. (Sorry Stirling, didn’t mean, you know,ahem).

    Schumacher had no truly great years. He just won stuff.

    A

  28. For Sure says:

    Great Post James.
    I think that he may had those resources in noughties but I think he was still the best driver at those years because I don’t think any unbiased f1 expert can name a driver who can do a better job than he did in Ferrari.

    My question here is that I feel that the gap between him and others was getting smaller and smaller as he was approaching mid-30s.
    Do you think that was the case?
    I mean during his Benneton days or Ferrari 96, there were races where he made the world best drivers (F1 drivers) looked like they didn’t know what they were doing.

  29. BurgerF1 says:

    I’d have to go with his early stint at Ferrari, 1996-1999.

    When he was at Benetton he was already in a top team and a top car, which helped him. In his early years at Ferrari he showed that he could perform magic with a relatively uncompetitive car (particularly in the wet) and even then he was crushing his team mate. At that time he also demonstrated the vision and team building skills that makes him a more complete driver than most. He was also up against good competition, particularly in the form of Hakkinen and McLaren.

    2000-2004 saw him reap the rewards of what had come before. At this time, too, I think it’s fair to say that the other teams stumbled badly.

    2005-2006 saw Ferrari wain a bit against Renault (though he and Alonso had some great battles). I think that we also started to see Schumacher’s own will starting to wain too – he simply didn’t have the energy to continue pushing at the maximum (though that 8th title was SO close).

    At present, we appear to have the 2005-2006 Schumacher more than the others: not the hungry rookie, or the visionary team builder who still took a poor car and rung the neck out of it. And the competition has only gotten far, far greater.

    Perhaps in 2011…

  30. Curro says:

    Difficult one. How to asses his performance over the seasons considering all the years in which there was some kind of controversy regarding his driving, team politics and/or the legality of his cars?

    I would say 1996. The car was a dog, and Ferrari was far from being the steamroller it became once Ross Brawn made the move from Benetton, one year after MS. Still, he won 3 races, including Barcelona on 8 cylinders in the wet, and Spa/Monza in close battles against more powerful Renault-powered cars.

    2000 would come second, finally beating the Hakkinen-McLaren combo in a straight fight.

    1995 was good in the second-best car, but you could argue that the Williams pair of Hill-Coulthard was no match for him.

    For all the other years it’s the controversy what comes to mind first.

  31. JohnBt says:

    “But it’s one of the key reasons why he was SO successful.”

    That’s a MAJOR issue.

    1. mtb says:

      How many other drivers could have been as successful as he was, for as long as he was, given the same opportunities? Furthermore, how many other drivers could have led the team in the same manner as he did for as long as he did?

      His first serious rival, Hakkinen, found the going too tough. Raikkonen was out of F1 a couple of seasons after winning the WDC, and Alonso has been patchy since 2006.

      1. Bobby says:

        Ha! Between Hakkinen retiring and Alonso being given a car Schumacher didn’t have any competition. I could name a dozen drivers who would have walked those championships given the same circumstances.

      2. Frenchie says:

        What about JP? Loved their collisions in Germany 02 (I think) and Monaco in 04.

        He was close with Kimi as well to beating him in 03.

        Shame Coulthard was no match in 01 and that both McLaren and Williams had serious flaws in 04.

      3. JohnBt says:

        Alonso sent Shumi into retirement because of 2005 & 2006, we all know that. And that is the truth.

      4. mtb says:

        Did you hear that from the man himself?

      5. Ajay says:

        Forget that Bridgestone produced rubbish tyres in 2005, and he still scored a few podiums. Forget that Luca di Montezemelo forced his hand by hiring Kimi for 2007. Forget that Brazil 2006 was one of his most dominant drives ever.

        No, Alonso sent him to retirement. And that is a FACT!

  32. 2000 was the season he showed everything he’s got. Not the absolute best car, lots of lost points and stagering recovery mentality during the final stages of the championship race.
    2003 was the season he showed how you can turn a title fight around, when everybody else doesn’t want you to…
    2006 would have been epic if he’d done it (and embarrassing for Alonso, may I add).
    I love his early years in 1991-1995, but it’s all very different when you are not fighting for a title or don’t have serious opposition when you are.
    I’d go for 1998 and 2000.

  33. Richard Foster says:

    For me his best years were the Ferrari years, he took on a project that many others had failed at and stuck with it for 4 long years until at last in 2000 they won the title.

    I think he was at his peak 2000-2004 managing to maintain the motivation as he won 5 titles in a row.

    People will always complain about him having a supporting driver but at the end of the day would any driver turn down that kind of deal from a team? I doubt it!

    Michael did the best with what was on offer to him. Perhaps one day someone might match his 7 titles but I doubt that anyone will win 5 in a row ever again. 2000-2004 his best years by far!

  34. Taz says:

    I have been lucky enough to see Michael from the years of 1999-present and I can say that he has never disappointed me one bit back then. Races such as Suzuka 2000, Magny Cours 2002, Austria 2003, Monza 2006, China 2006 to name a few were. And to have the motivation and determination to come and race and provide such a spectacle every time is just sheer brilliance. So I would say that was his peak. He is the reason why I watch F1 and millions of others do the same. No other driver will ever come close to that no matter how much hatred people have for him. I can’t wait to see him jump on that top step of the podium.

  35. Ed says:

    His 2010 problem stems from the fact that he clearly wears a Ferrari coloured helmet in his Mercedes…

    He should return to the original Benetton helmet colours!

    I’m suprised someone with his desire to win hasn’t noticed this!

    1. Ajay says:

      Um, he used the Benetton colours for his first four years with Ferrari and didn’t win a championship.

      He needs new colours for his helmet every time he changes teams. That should make a difference!

  36. Rm says:

    James, I personally think that the best years were from 1996-2000, where he managed to transcend the limitations of his race car and achieve results which were nothing short of absolute brilliance!

  37. Crys says:

    I never bought into the church of Schumacher because it seemed like the achievements were never honest. In the Benetton years, we used to run a sweep stake to pick what the cheat of the day would be. At Ferrari, between being the favoured child at all times, and some incredibly unsporting behaviour with Hill and Villeneuve he was handed so much on a plate, that it’s impossible to judge how good, bad or indifferent he might have been on a more level playing field.

    With the exception of the recent idiotic move on Rubens, he actually seems like a better human being now, and for me that makes him a better driver. He doesn’t have the best car, he can’t get away with appalling behaviour of the past, so when he produces some decent driving, it’s real, it’s what he can do with what he’s got, and it’s much better for it.

    1. mtb says:

      “…he actually seems like a better human being now”

      Didn’t he make the largest private donation in the world after the 2004 tsunami?

      1. Crys says:

        Don’t know about the largest, it may well have been since it was in the region of $10 million. That was very early 2005, and he did it because of a personal connection to him. It was a very generous thing to do.

        I was specifically referring to his attitude within the racing world, and I stand by my comment – he is more open now, less aggressive, more thoughtful – and therefore a better person within racing – which is the arena we’re supposed to be discussing. His private life is exactly that – private – and I don’t think it’s relevant to this discussion.

  38. mo kahn says:

    Every single year of Schumacher in F1 is the best year, even this year while he struggles to come to grips with tyre and inferior car, there is thing or two to learn and relish.

    He is the only driver who is greater than the team he drives for.

    Lets celebrate him while he is around. A Man like Schumacher comes once a century.

    Remove your judgemental eyeglasses and look closely and you’ll find there is no driver like Schumacher.

    1. Blade Runner says:

      Could not agree more.

      Never a big fan of his but his results will NEVER be equalled.

      He might of been in the best car at times but that is part of the 100% competitor he is, he helped build Ferrari and as far as teamates go he had the good sense to ensure they never troubled him.

      All indicators of the Master that he is.

    2. Frenchie says:

      Twice. Read about Fangio’s achievements. You’d be surprised.

  39. mo kahn says:

    Ah and to all his retractors: If you were to own a team and you have an opportunity to hire Schumacher who is within the budget of your team… would you?

    If someone disagrees then I certain that he or she lacks the basic entrepreneur skills :)

  40. Dan says:

    The best I ever saw from Schumi was in the 98 season. How he wrung the neck of that Ferrari to keep up with the mighty McLarens I’ll never know… That season showed us the gritty Schumacher, the one who could outdrive the car and was mesmerizing behind the wheel, rather than the rather easy championship wins in say 2002 and 2004, which were greater overall achievements but weren’t the result of such fireworks and pure talent as 1998′s ultimately failed bid to grab the title.

  41. jmv says:

    interesting replies… i remember the benetton days when he used to really “hunt” other drivers down.. i remember 92 adelaide gp when mansell and senna crashed and michael did an extra pitstop and with fresh rubber went to hunt for berger… that’s when it was clear that he was very hungry. also in brazil i remember him hunting down herbert (i think) for a 3rd or 4th place… the way he drove that car, the aggression and looming threat with every camera angle… good stuff.

    there is one thing that i always found puzzling: he always maintained that traction control and driving aids were good things. he was not one to support going back to the non-use of these devices. i always found this sounding “unnatural” for such a natural born racing driver.

    1. mtb says:

      Didn’t he say that these things enabled him to focus on other ways to develop the car?

  42. gremlin says:

    Even if I liked him at his F1 debuts, 91-92, I have never been really impressed. More than the sheer numbers of his palmares, I remember HOW it was made. In my eyes he has been a good pilot, but nothing more, surely not an oustanding one.
    What he accomplished was mainly when he didn’t have to face a good pilot/car combination, or if so with some help from the federation…
    But what will stick to him, in my eyes, are the numerous manoeuvres well beyond the limits of proper racing. I can understand and forgive a pilot who did such things in a couple of special circumstances, but it looks like it was really a system to him, something “normal” and automatic ( I later discovered he was already familiar with these attitudes in karting – in Germany he was nicknamed Schumli, meaning something like cheater ! – F3 and sport prototypes ), and I can not respect a pilot who doesn’t respect himself his opponents and their physical integrity. I started following F1 almost 40 years ago, and in those times a pilot behaving like him would have been put in his place by the “big names”, or “boycotted”… or dead, like John Watson was saying not long ago.
    Therefore, I could agree with those saying that his best years were 2007-2009 !

    1. mtb says:

      So Hakkinen/McLaren wasn’t a good pilot/car combination?

      1. Bobby says:

        Are you Schumacher in disguise?

      2. Damian Johnson says:

        Could well be!

      3. gremlin says:

        indeed they were… in 98 and 99 for what concerns McLaren at least
        you are just proving my point

      4. mtb says:

        Well, Schumacher missed several races in 1999. He beat Hakkinen in 2000 and 2001.

      5. gremlin says:

        to mtb
        I hope you are not seriously trying to compare 2000 and 2001 Ferraris and McLarens !
        already in 99 the Ferrari was the top car, and Irvine might have been WC had he not had to give way to his team mate in the beginning of the season, or if MSC had not preferred playing football to going back into F1 once healed… but of course he would not be remembered then as the one who brought the title back to Maranello !

      6. mtb says:

        gremlin

        It was you who raised the issue of 1999.

        You should probably recall that both Salo and Schumacher handed Irvine victories that season. And if Irvine was relying on Schumacher in order to win the championship, then you have to question whether he would have been a worthy champion.

        As for the 2000 Ferrari being a superior car – the performances of Barrichello suggest that probably wasn’t the case. Surely Schumacher would have wrapped the title up long before the second-last race of the season if the car was superior. In fact, I seem to remember McLaren suggesting after that year’s Austrian GP that their car had the performance advantage.

  43. Carsten says:

    As with everything in F1 it’s hard to judge from the outside.

    I think the “hungry years” only appear to be his best because Ferrari was the underdog to Williams and McLaren and a underdog pulling a bunny out of the hat always impresses more then the default winner.

    Although my sympathy is very much with the Benetton years and the hunt for the first Ferrari title i think his brutal brilliance came out best in the years 2001-2004. It got quite boring to watch but he was overwhelmingly good at executing those races.

    And 2006 was a really great way to end the career and his “last” race… alltime classic!

    As for 2011… i’m hoping that he gets at least one more race victory under the belt and adapts better to the new overtaking manifest.

    1. mtb says:

      Bridgestone had a superior tyre to Michelin for the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix. His drive at Shanghai impressed me more, as the Bridgestone was vastly inferior over that entire weeken.

  44. Floodo1 says:

    It’s pretty funny that people use the situations to discredit Schumacher’s skills. Perhaps he was in an era in which there werent any other great drivers (or at least super high level as one could argue there is now), but the fact remains that his dominance in the early 2000′s is unequaled, regardless of the era.

    Also, it’s overlooking many things to say that because Schuey is slow NOW that he probably wouldn’t have been so fast in the past if he didn’t have ferrarri’s best of class cars. You do realize that he RETIRED before he came back now right? Maybe that has something to do with his speed.

    The one thing that I will discredit him for was the fact that bridgestone tires were made specifically for him (in the 2000′s) while everyone else either had to run on that rubber or race michelin. I couldn’t help but feel at the time that some of the competing drivers were hindered by being stuck on michelins whereas ferrari was basically controlling bridgestone’s development.

    Fact is, regardless of cehating allegations, or convenient situations, Schumacher did what he had to do, and at the end of the day all the trophies went to him.
    I’m sure EVERY other driver would have done 98% of what Schuey would have done

    1. mtb says:

      In 2003 the Michelin was generally superior to the Bridgestone, and in 2005 it was almost, if not, always superior.

  45. russ says:

    Ive never been impressed with his driving.All the crashing into people,lame second team
    drivers,possible traction control,Team orders etc etc etc.
    Big deal.
    Retire so the rest of us can move on.

  46. Steve Selasky says:

    For me, it was the period of 1994 – 2001 and 2006 when he had competition from Williams, Renault, and McLaren.

    The period of 2002 – 2004 was utter domination due to the “unfair advantage” he gained by complete support from: Ferrar and Bridgestone.

    Overall, I think he is one of the greats who was assisted by the lack of depth from fellow competitors and teams….

    That is if he competed in the era of: Senna, Prost, Mansell, Piquet and others I doubt we would have saw him win regularly…..

  47. Red5 says:

    Leaving aside this seasons return you have touched on the 3 key phases of his career.

    His raw speed combined with Rory Byrne’s B195 plus the guidance of Ross Brawn proved a wining combination.

    It could be said that the initially lean Ferrari years paved the way for an astonishing 5 championship wins. We watched him mature as a racing driver no doubt learning from previous failures and building a strong team around him.

    He also raised the bar considerably and the sport as a whole evolved.

    I suggest that Ferrari, Todt and Brawn all played their parts. It will be interesting to see whether Alonso can continue where Schui left off.

    Ultimately the Senna question will never go away. And personally, I don’t think Schumi would have won a straight head to head with Ayrton.

    However, I don’t believe anyone else could have masterminded and executed his Hungry 1998 win. Pure magic.

    1. For Sure says:

      You clearly are not his fan as opposed to me but I agree with most of what you said except this ” I don’t think Schumi would have won a straight head to head with Ayrton”

      I think any top driver like Lewis or Alonso could win a straight fight against whoever you think is the greatest of all time. There are just too many variables and driver only contribute small percentage out of it. It’s all about getting the entire organization get it right and this is F1.

      1. alfred e shepperd says:

        Big difference: Senna faught to joing Prost (twice). Big Mike had Ferrari put clauses in his teamates’ contract.

      2. alfred e shepperd says:

        Big difference: Senna fought to join Prost (twice). Big Mike had Ferrari put clauses in his teamates’ contract… And before you bring up lotus, Senna did have a clause that he would get the “A” machinery, however it was to hide inefficiencies in the team-a problem Ferrari didnt have. Another example? Clarke joining Hill.

      3. For Sure says:

        Big Difference:Senna always tried to join a top team with the best car, Schumi joined a bad team and turned it around.

        And god sake F1 isn’t a boxing match where two top drivers enter the same team and fight.

        At the time, Senna could afford to do that because Maclaren was in a class of their own. No one could beat them. If he join them in 2007/08 with Prost, Ferrari would beat them.
        The point is different era, different circumstances. One driver cannot repeat what other did in the past.

        In addition, Jean Todt did approach Alonso who choose to join Renault so your logic of avoiding a top teammate isn’t entirely true.
        And he never vetoed any new teammate where as Senna did veto Warwick due to lack “resources” but then who would say “Oh I am scare”.

        And please don’t forget Honda was doing big favor to Senna.

        Regarding Senna vs Schu, Senna weakest point was that he couldn’t accept the defeat from a young driver and finish second. He threw a too much points away.MS was an underdog nothing to loose, so he was happy to finish behind. MS definitely would have won 94.

    2. Frenchie says:

      Yes 1994 will always be a question mark.

      Let’s not forget that Senna did not score a single point in three races that year (despite 4 poles I think).

      Eventually, I think Schumi would have won. The Williams no longer had the active suspension that Senna so successfully campaigned to get rid of.

      Mika’s title in 99 has the same question mark I believe.

      1. gremlin says:

        4 poles in 3 race week-ends…. Senna really must have been the greatest
        in Brazil, Senna spun trying to follow a car using illegal traction control
        in Japan he was hit from behind at the 1st corner and put out of the race
        in Imola he was there for 3 laps only
        when you se that in order to get crowned MSC had to hit Hill on the last race, how can you doubt Senna would have gotten the title ? Beats me…

      2. For Sure says:

        How convenient, never mentioned the 4 races ban to let Damon to catch up.

      3. Frenchie says:

        Hey Gremlin,

        It’s been a long time since 94 man. I thought Imola was the 4th GP and did not see fit to mention he did not score any points in that race. That’ll teach me for trying to be polite.

        That said, I’m pretty sure he was the greatest in Brazil. No question. If any Brazillian could confirm, that’d be great.

        Finally, for your less informed readers, Damon Hill won the Japanese GP in Suzuka (and what a race this was).
        Senna took part in the Pacific GP, that happened in Aida in Japan/

  48. Paul says:

    A slightly off point message but I find it interesting to reflect that his 7 WDCs could easily have been 8,9,10 or 11 WDCs. You could even argue in this respect that he was unluckly.

    I have often thought that early this season that he looked too relaxed compared to the ‘old’ schumacher. Too willing to engage and joke with the press. Reminds me of when people return to work after a holiday and are not quite up to speed initially.

    But in more recent races I sense that he is finding his old focus. For this reason I would say that his performance could still considerably improve.

    I cant think of another sport where a player could take 3 years out and then return without little opportunity for practice and be back at the top level. I sometimes think commentators like Eddie Jordan have little understanding of what it takes to be a top professional in any discipline.

    1. mtb says:

      Yes, he would most likely have won in 1999, and the 1997, 1998 and 2006 his championship challenges went to the final race.

    2. Bobby says:

      He’s had 15 weekends plus countless hours in a sim. There’s no excuses. Nico is giving him a beating.

      1. Paul says:

        thats not alot for a professional. Other sportsmen/professionals would practice for hours per day

  49. Matt says:

    If I could choose a year it would be 2002; he finished every race on the podium. But the era 96-99 was his best I think, there are so many “how did he do that” moments, some of his wins didn’t seem possible.

  50. Mark M says:

    Quite a nice topic this but how can we escape the controversy that has surrounded Schumacher since the start. His first race courtesy of Bertrand gachot and the taxi driver. His move after one race to benetton. There was the refuelling rig ‘tampering’ in 94-95, the plank that was worn down to far at spa, his driving into of Hill and Villeneuve, the mysterious option in the bennettons race ecu suspected to be launch control but never proved, then we had his move to Ferrari . And one constant no matter what team he is driving for is his ruthless defending of position from the lights going out to flag falling passing schumi was in the hands of the gods or in villenuve/Montoya case it just means going around the outside of schumi at corners not associated with overtaking.

    1. Lilla My says:

      I hope I understood your comment correctly as English isn’t my first language…

      Anyway – don’t think I’m Schumacher’s fan – I’m not and I always have problem with him and never actually know what to think of him.

      I agree that, like you said, the greatest problem with him is the controversy. There’s so much of it that many people concentrate only on it, forgetting that MSC was an exceptional driver. IMHO you have to have the talent and abilities to win as much as he did (if you’re a bad driver you’ll never win that much no matter how many rules you’ve broken).

      Yet the bottom line is – he was great. Of course we’ll never know how much he could have achieved if he was playing always according to the rules and beyond controversy, but we can’t take his talent away from him.

  51. Richard says:

    93 -95 without a doubt, he outperformed his car l believe the Williams was superiror maybe not so in 94 but certainly in 95 and although l was a Hill fan, he made damon look second class at times. The Ferrari years, I don’t think it possible to conpare against first and more importantly his tame mate because of the terrible politics that were envolved, and secondly because no other team in that period had the testing that schumi had and other teams were pulled in such different directions by there team mates, it was how schumi wanted the gar designed / setup and the other guy I feel was there as someone drivingthe most expensive advertising board in history, kindoff….. If you don’t like it! Leave!

  52. JimmiC says:

    I have never been a Schumacher fan, but I’d probably have to pick 1994/1995, although there is no doubt that his part in taking Ferrari from midfielders to front runners was also very impressive – Jerez 1997 aside, I would’ve probably put 96-99 up as the best.

    94/95 wasn’t without controversies, but his drives in a difficult Benetton and being thrust into the limelight as the future of F1 after the death of Senna puts this particular period in his history over the dominant Ferrari days when he had an awesome car and a wing-man underneath him.

  53. marc says:

    Hi james
    Schumi will without fail be a winner again but maybe not win a title. You no how fast f1 moves on and to be away from it like michael was has done him no favours. I was never a fan of his mainly because he made f1 a little boring but that mainly down to his rivals were not in his league sothat was not his fault. He is a fantastic driver no doubt about that and yes he does push the limits of cheating and i will never forgive him for what he did to hill, but combine that with his huge attention to detail and right team members with him such as ross brawn then all the other drivers in the pit lane write him off at your peril.

  54. terryshep says:

    The comments of Schumacher’s detractors on the grounds that “He only won because he had the best car, the best tyres, the best team, the bed nearest the window in the hotel” make me laugh. Do they imagine that the Managing Directors of Ferrari and Bridgestone chose to throw their $200 million budget at just anyone, or do you think they picked a driver they thought might justify it? Why did Ferrari hire him in the first place and pay him the money they did? Are they complete fools? In fact, why did Mercedes spend quite serious money to start him off in EJ’s team at that Belgian GP? Was it all just a happy accident – or did these enormously experienced people discern something more than average ability?

    Let’s indulge a wild flight of fantasy: you are wildly ambitious and are in the Ferrari team, drawing $25m a year. Do you roll in on a Thursday morning to see if there’s a race that weekend and which of these red cars you are driving? Or do you spend most of your time there, examining the threads on every bolt, every last byte of the telemetry, to see if you can discern an advantage? When Bridgestone ask you if the tyres are alright, do you offer some thoughts or do you simply kick the tyres and hope that the pressures are OK?

    Come on guys, World Champions are ruthless predators, they will move mountains in their search for the ultimate advantage and anything they can do to gain it, they will do. Didn’t take Fernando long to elbow poor old Felipe out of his way, did it? More power to his elbow, he’s doing what he should to be the Champ.

    Fangio has now achieved sainthood but let’s not forget that other drivers sometimes had to give up their cars during a race so that he could score points and that at least one of his titles was secured in this way.

    Great drivers attract support, people want to be associated with success. Brundle, Irvine, Barichello, they all had their chance to be the Anointed One, all they had to do was demonstrate that they were better, overall, than their team-mate. Overall, they didn’t.

    Instead of denigrating his race achievements, he could be praised for the way he improved the team, the car and the tyres to the level that he did.

    Despite the above, I am not a blind Michael fan, I try to be objective. His results are not what his previous record would suggest, obviously and a number of reasons have been advanced for this; I don’t know the answer myself. It may be that a different car and tyre regime will help next season but I wonder if perhaps he is simply enjoying the driving, the ambience? He’s been out for three years, living the life and enjoying himself on bikes for a bit of fun, maybe we should just accept that he is no longer the fanged predator but just one of the boys?

  55. Bec says:

    I find it too difficult to call.

    Because every time I think that was an excellent period, I remember unsavoury aspects to them, from illegal traction control to ramming people off the track.

    The thing is I don’t think he really needed to do the things he did.

    1. Crys says:

      “The thing is I don’t think he really needed to do the things he did.”

      We will never know for sure – which is rather sad. I think you’re probably right, which makes it a double shame that he felt he had to.

  56. Blanchimont says:

    For me it’s hard to beat the sheer emotion of 2000, finally achieving his objective of winning the title with Ferrari. How hard-fought it was, against such a competitive rival, made it a superb title. The closeness of that Suzuka weekend, from qualifying through to the race, was nail-biting. And then, for almost perfection, 2002 and 2004 were fairly special. I remember attending the Spa race in 2002 in particular where on that day, in that car, he was just in a league of his own.

    His individual race wins at Spain in 1996, Hungary in 1998 and France in 2004 (which should be viewed as the perfect example of a form of Formula 1 I’m not sure we’ll ever see again) also deserve special mention.

  57. antoine says:

    Aaaahhh…. nice topic James. You made me remember of the years ’96-’99… how passionate i was while watching these gp’s. In my opinion, and this is just an opinion, these were the best years of Michael. He won no Championship but his fights against much faster cars really made a point as to how capable he is.

    His last championships was a walk in the park. I am sure that if he was at his youth he would have left Scuderia as he did with Benetton. He would have gone somewhere else to drive a middle range team to the top.

    Also his finish with ferrari at 2006 was a flashback to the 90′s.

    However at his 41…Things have changed. Not because he is 41 but because he stopped for 3 years. This fact made him lose the feeling of being at the edge of the car. His will is still there. You can see how uncomfortable he is whenever the camera takes a shot of him… He is trying to do the impossible: To regain the feeling of the limit at his 41.

  58. Momo says:

    What do you think James?

    1. James Allen says:

      The years after he broke his leg. He came back at a higher level than before. Also few controversies in those middle years..

  59. Taz says:

    To those who regards Schumacher as just a mere average F1 driver who apparently won all 7 WDC and 91 wins with the help of illegal car/FIA/team orders and what not. The fact that people like JA are talking about him over and over again with multiple posts says what Schumacher is to the sport. He has been the talk of the sport since his debut.

    Without him, F1 needs things like spygate/crashgate for publicity.

    If he was/is just a mere average F1 driver, why are we all wasting our time writing about him then…..We don’t seem to do it for someone like lets say Kovaleinen/Fisichella who both had great championship winning cars at their disposal.

    1. mtb says:

      Hear, hear!

    2. Jey says:

      Oh and please add EJ to the list

      But for the BS that he is uttering about Michael,I dont think anyone would have cared a damn about what he has to say

      Becoz its about Michael,even if its BS,he is getting the spotlight

    3. Mark M says:

      I think schummi ranks as one of the best but to be called the greatest I feel he will never be he might have the records but he also has the controversy surrounding him. You don’t see this controversy with other motorsport champs, franchitti,loeb,Rossi are all seen to be the perfect ambassador to their respective sports schummi on my eyes will never fulfill that role as there are too many question marks left unanswered.

      1. Taz says:

        I don’t disagree with the controversies, yes he does have many controversies some of which he did apologize for, e.g there is a youtube interview of schumi where he was asked if he regrets anything in his career and he did mention Jerez 97, also the recent Barrichello incident. But that doesn’t mean people have the right to say that he is an average f1 driver who won because of certain circumstances and that his best years are when he was away. That is plain simple sad for the fans of a sport where Schumacher has been a big part of.

        As for controversies, alteast he doesn’t have a crashgate scandal against him and still had the guts to say that he deserved the win.

  60. James D says:

    2011/12.

  61. monktonnik says:

    As a Schumacher fan I loved the dominant period.

    To be honest I think that his best years for me were the last 2 when he was racing Alonso. Yep, he lost, but he still fought. When I think of my favourite memory of Schumacher so far it is always Brazil 2006. He lost the title that day, but proved that he had lost none of his drive, determination or skill.

  62. Ahmed Youssef says:

    Thanks for the clarification on the previous post! I was going to comment, but didn’t feel like criticising the great job you do!

    I feel that 96-2000 were particularly fantastic – Schumacher was forced to get every last ounce of performance of the car against very strong opposition.

    My favourite memory of Schumacher was when he used to tilt his head to one side on the straights during qualifying in ’96 to allow more air into the intake and extract as much HP as possible out of the engine :)

  63. Danny says:

    Well, where do you start?
    Obviously his championship winning years were brilliant 1995 and 2000 stick out for me. The 2000 to 2004 domination period was a brilliant to watch. For a driver to put himself in a winning position and to stay there for so long is a real credit to Schumacher, there is no better driver to get into a winning position, mould the team round him and win race after race. But also the 1996 to 1999 period where never having the best car particuarly in 96, Schumacher wrung it’s neck to take two championships to the wire and in the process took some classic victories. Although we will never know I suspect that 1999 would have been Schumacher’s year considering even Irvine mangaged to run Hakkinen close.

    COME ON! MICHAEL AND MERCEDES FOR 2011

  64. Andy C says:

    I started out not liking Michael, but as the years have gone by I admired him more and more.

    It’s difficult to say for me which year was best.

    For me, if his comeback is not successful that will not take away from his first stint in f1. It’s easy to forget just how many great drives he’s jhad in the past.

    He has returned to do something he loves and have some fun. But he will be sharp come the start of next season.

  65. Steve Rogers says:

    I’d say 1994-1995, when he looked more dangerous and more pointy than he ever did in those stately Ferrari warhorses.

  66. Cya says:

    Somehow as a Tifosi, you had Prost, Mansell and many other great drivers who wanted to stop the Ferrari drought, believe Me, when Prost went there, it was like watching Rambo going to free people held for years.

    Ferrari have had 20 years without winning any titles, new teams came and won in that space of time, Ferrari had the backing of FIAT, they had mega star drivers whom Italy and every fan around the world hoped Ferrari take the title.

    Getting to the race, you have to go to the weekend of Suzuka in 2000, this was probably the most tense situation you could ever find in Formula 1. Ferrari have lost many times and at times, but Ferrari knew that they had to win in Suzuka, however the F 2000 was not a match of the McLaren, McLaren had won the in previous 2 years, they were ready to make Hakkinen a 3 back to back champion.

    You had Ross Brawn whom Ferrari had his hopes on him, the mechanics and the drivers, Ross was like a Doctor who just had assembled a team to operate on a critical patient, at that moment, you rely on the Doctor whether you will make it in life or not.

    Im sure others will form their own opinion but I think the drive on Suzuka on Sunday from Michael was probably the best race he has ever driven, Hakkinen was attaking in a faster car and Michael was right on the edge. McLaren had all these fantastic drivers and Senna was their man and at Ferrari it was schumacher who made Ferrari what it is today.

    But Ferrari and Michael went separate ways, i never knew it would come to that point, from what I believe Michael never wanted to stop racing, yes they maybe critical people but you have to analyse that even people who way senior in age still compete and win in most forms of motorsport. Somehow we need to go back to the history of F1 when it began that age did not matter.

    I think there are all these unnecessary pressures and expectations, from a driver who has not been in F1 for many years, its quiet impressive what he has done that considering that Fisichella had a problem when he stood in for Massa, there is a lot that can change from race to race for that matter.

    Im sure Ferrari and people who love F1 would be happy if Michael did enjoy his time in F1. Great F1 champs aproach F1 on a race by race basis until the championship comes their way. This is like saying what it will be like on the moon without being there and landing.

    But I feel its better to watch F1 and enjoy because i think the media creates hype and people looking for hits on their sites. There is so much I have learned in F1 over the past decades, some of those lessons I have applied them in my life. Somehow people think F1 team bosses are people who work in wall street, come in amd make lots of money and go home. In F1 its a different story, people are driven to win, i have seen people willing to race for free, willing to go to a team that people have no hope for it and go on to take the title and change it into a winning team.

  67. John T says:

    I would agree with a lot other posters here, 96 – 99 he was at his peak, in 96 he won more races in one season than ferrari had in the previous 5, Spain 96, Monaco 97, masterclasses in the rain (but, how the hell did Williams think they would get away with starting on slicks in Monaco that year? im trying to remember the joke about the weather system they used for that!).

    Hungary 98 he was awesome, boot to the board, but later in his career, i thought that San Marino 06 was one of best races he ever done, a real “hustler” kind of win, he slowed the pace in the middle of the race, people started unlapping themselves, then Alonso pitted, hey presto, Schumacher set the fastest lap of the race, pitted, got back out in the lead!

    Another thing, the whole argument of cheating i.e software, the podium of San Marino 94, all cars had illegal software. Lest just say for argument, that all teams WERE running the software, do you really think that Williams weren’t?

  68. olderguysrule says:

    Any years he won were the best years. Remember what Sarte said in the movie Grand Prix. “There is only winning”

  69. Bradley Sargeant says:

    For me Schumacher’s best year was 2000. That year Hakkinen and Schumacher had similar cars and were two drivers at the top of the game with similar ability. I actually believe either of them would have been deserving champions that year and it was year that wasn’t shrouded in controversy. Unfortunately the bulk of Schumachers career was at a time where in my opinion Formula 1 lacked a group of greats such as in previous eras. Apart from Hakkinen and Alonso in the later years Michael never really had real top line rivals in similar equipment. That’s not a critisism, you can only beat who your up against and he and his team did that time and again. But for that reason I’m not sure where he stands alongside other greats of the sport, such as Senna, Prost, Stewart, Clark, Lauda, Moss, Fangio, Ascari. He certainly deserves to be metioned in the same breath as these names, i’m just not too sure he deserves to be at the top or even the top five (Just my opinion). A great without doubt, how great I don’t know and certainly a flawed great.

  70. Rich C says:

    His best years? *Next year.

  71. James B says:

    Fascinating reading all of this and I am finding it really difficult to contribute anything extra to the debate! I had an initial dislike of Schumacher but grew to really like and admire him. It was around the early 00′s when it dawned on me what an amazing sight we were seeing as he just seemed so motivated and hadn’t lost any of his desire to win.

    It leads me to my favourite Schumacher moment in 2004 at Magny Cours. Schumacher in his career for me was famed for going on an aggressive strategy and making it work. It was in this race that he adopted a 4 stop strategy. It was simply incredible and for him the only way of getting passed his new rival Alonso!

    So, finally my answer to this question is I really hope it is 2011-12!

  72. George says:

    1995 was Michael’s best season, he beat Damon and David by having superior race-craft and mental strength. Michael may have won 9 races that year but there was more to the season than the results. Damon finished 1994 stronger than Michael and continued that form into 1995 with 2 wins from 3. At the third race in San Marino Michael cracked under pressure on lap 10. At the time I wasn’t a fan of his, I really wanted Damon and David (the brits) to beat him and after San Marino I thought they would do it. In my eyes Michael was trying to usurp Ayrton’s reputation. It is how Michael responded to this race that won me over and has marked him out as a great.

  73. Christian says:

    I haven’t seen him racing before ’95, so I don’t know about the years before that. But what I’ve seen then and in his early Ferrari years has been hugely impressive. I think that he was on the same level from 2000-2002, but he had no real match most of that time so it is hard to judge.
    One other question, James: When was he driving an F1 car for the first time? Was it in Belgium ’91 or did he do a test some time before that?

  74. rolo.cz says:

    Schumacher situation perhaps shows how dependent racing is on a biological/physical condition of the pilots. I wonder when in the future will it be possible to genetically breed superfast enhanced humans, F1 will be the first to invest in that technology!!

    I seriously mean it ;)

  75. Paul Mc says:

    The Hakkinen years of 1998-2000 were my favourite of the Schumacher years. Two amazing drivers battling it out at the top of their game.

  76. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    For me it has to be 1998.

    Schumacher had rejected the lure of Mercedes and decided on the hard route with Ferrari.

    I will never forget Hungary 1998 and the way in which he reeled off those 23 or so hot laps. When he crashed into the back of Coulthard that year there was an overwhelming feeling of a wasted opportunity for him to materialise just how great his driving had been.

    And who can forget those incredible opening laps of the Japanese GP having been made to start from the back.

    Truly awesome, and it makes me quite angry to read a lot of current bitter journalism that detracts from Schumacher’s feats and greatness.

    I also don’t agree with the comments made that we are in a golden era of racing drivers and that Schumacher would not have had it so easy if they were around during his era.

    The only current greats are Hamilton and Alonso. The rest would be pretty much Trulli-esque or Coulthard-esque. Schumacher was judged to be as good a racer a Senna…are come hapless hacks now insinuating that Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosberg are as good as Ayrton Senna?

    Schumacher has undoubtedly diminished from his high, but I can bet you anything that none of the current bunch would be able to perform as he is performing at the age of 41 and only after 8 days pre-season testing.

    Schumacher deserves more respect.

    1. fact says:

      to aquire respect my friend, you first must give it

  77. BMG says:

    Look I’ve never been a really big fan of Schumacher. I would have like to see him in a team without Ross Brawn in it, I doubt he would have been as successful.

    I am however a big fan of Ross Brawn, He made Button a world Champion when alot of people had written him off.

    In saying that the Benetton years.

    1. For Sure says:

      Hmm very strange way of thinking. Ferrari won without him, why not Schumi as long as he is in a top team.

  78. Jey says:

    I would like to say the period from 1994 – 1999.
    The period when he put up memorable runs inspite of having a inferior machine

    For some reason,IMHO,Michael is not about the statistics alone.No wonder the man polarises the F1 world even now.

    Suzuka 2006 will be forever etched in the memory.Having had the title hopes go up in smokes,Michael’s behaviour was extra ordinary

    No throwing around the steering wheel on the track,no thrashing the helmet around,no locking himself out in a room – He went around hugging his mechanics and cheering them up.

    Honestly,I dont believe any of the current lot,excluding Michael ofcourse,doing that if their WDC goes up in smokes

    1. Kiwi says:

      I agree with Jey: 1994-1999, plus 2000. In 1994, he was indeed in superior machinery during the first few races, putting Williams and Senna on a backfoot, but then he got heavily penalized by the FIA for various offenses, some very benign (Silvestone). The Adelaïde incident was unfortunate, but I felt at the time that so many points had been artificially taken away from Schumacher that he deserved the title anyhow. BTW, I don’t care much for the guy, finding him arrogant, with bad taste in fashion and architecture, ;), but his driving during those years was superb. I rate his later Ferrari years less because, by then, the Schumacher/Brawn/Todt trio was pretty much in cruise control, and aside from obvious exceptions, I find it hard to dissect out individual achievements.

  79. Darren says:

    91-95: Showed he had a very fast learning curve, won by default in 94 (lets not go into the traction control palava, well actually lets do they found a loophole in the regs much like Brawn last year, Mclaren this year, Mclaren with the “fiddle brake” and all the teams with their traction control in the late 90s Benneton thought of it first and the other teams huffed) he thrashed Hill in 95 (how many times did Damon crash into him?)

    96-00: Had some fantastic wins particularly when it was wet and beat far superior machinery on a regular occasion. I think he would have won in 99 had he not broke his leg (Mika did make a bit of a hash of the second half of the season) In 2000 he got a car that was on par with the Mclarens and beat Mika fair and square (in my opinion his finest championship win and the only against a true rival)

    01-04: After his natural rival Mika Hakkinen retired no one replaced him, there was no other world championship winners (jacques was possibly still kicking about?) apart from him. The other cars were not good enough. Mind you he only had really dominant cars in 02 & 04 lets not forget in 03 he was pushed pretty close and if Raikkonen had some more luck…. He had the best car because he had built the best team around him and worked the hardest, note what I said that there were no other truly great drivers to challenge him (montoya gave it a crack and Alonso & Raikkonen were still maturing)

    05-06: The tyre changes for 05 really ruined the Ferrari car, despite that he managed to drag some pretty impressive performances out of it. 06 he made some bad mistakes at the start of the season which made me think his time had come but his comeback was something else, it was so very ironic that an engine failure ultimately cost him the title given that i dont think he had had a breakdown in 4 years or something obscene. That drive at Brazil has to be one of the greatest f1 drives ever surely?

    Overall I think the early ferrari years were his best, it is diffcult to gauge just how good he was from 00-04 as the car was so far ahead of the rest, there were no other standout drivers to compare him to and you could not compare him fairly to his team-mate. I am of the opinion he got pushed out at Ferrari and had no intention of retiring when he did.

    2010 –
    Well…. I was not expecting miracles from him but I thought he would be comparable with his team-mate. It turns out the car is not the best but Nico manages to occasionaly get some solid if unspectacular results from it. What worries me is that he goes backwards in the races rather than forwards, if the skill and racecraft were still there he would surely make up places even if he was lacking a tenth or two in ultimate pace?

    I think the standard of driver is far higher now so more emphasis is on the car. Basically what i am trying to say is there is not a lot to choose between the top drivers and indeed the rest of the field (Alonso possibly stands out as he has the experience of being at the top) and that if you swapped all the drivers round the cars would more or less finish in the same order.

    Good god this is quite an essay. I will conclude it by saying that I detested Schumacher throughout pretty much all of his frist career and for 10 years or so ritually screamed at the TV every Sunday and jumped for joy every time he crashed or retired. It was only after he retired I realised that I had been watching one of the greatest sporting careers of all time. I hope he makes a lot of people eat a big bowl of humble pie next year, obviously i wouldnt want him winning the championship or anything rediculous like that, I dont like him that much ;).

  80. Steven says:

    I havent read all the posts, Ill admit, but the overriding theme is that he always won on a inferior car, and I simply dont believe this. You cant win if your car is not the best, not 5 times in a row. Im an admited schumi detractor, Ill admit to that too. The only times he had a rival in equal equipment and with comparable skills, he lost(Mika Hakkinen and Alonso). Or is everybody going to tell me that the Maca and Renault were just better? How do you guys know? Did anybody drive both cars?

    I give the man his due credit, he IS an mazing driver, probably in the top 1%, but come on!

  81. Frenchie says:

    For me, Schumi’s best years were 1998-2000 and 2004.

    1998 – fighting with Mika with a much inferior car. Fantastic season with the highlight being Hungary.

    1999 – definitely a ‘what could have been’ season if he did not break his leg. Yes Irvine won fair and square in Oz, but Schumi wouldn’t have been as miserable as Eddie in Monza. I think he’d have won it.

    2000 – same as 1998 except the Ferrari was closer to the McLaren in terms of performance and he dutifully won the title that year after a 21 year wait since Scheckter’s.

    2004 – what a boring season it was but this one’s for the record books for such a dominance from any driver – ever.

    A few other memories include his win in Spain 94 stuck in fifth gear, being lapped by Alonso in Hungary 03 and that move by Alonso (again) in Suzuka 05 at the 130R corner.

    One last thought is for his non-participation in 07. It was a welcome relief after such a long domination of the sport for the first half of the decade but can’t to think he was still driving great at the end of 06 and Ferrari had an excellent car in 07. What a shame.
    Let’s hope he can put a fight on next year.

  82. Racyboy says:

    Michael is an incredible driver, and from what I’ve read, a pretty nice guy.

    I’ve been a Ferrari fan since I first saw Tony Curtis in a Ferrari Dino in The Persuaders.

    I was thrilled when Schuey joined the team, and devastated when he left.

    I believe he was always the same as a driver, quick, consistent and ruthless.
    There are a number of drivers who could achieve great things with the level of support Michael had at Ferrari. Michael moulded that team around him, and that’s why he’s special.
    The Todt,Byrne,Brawn triumvirate with Montezemelo pouring money into it, Schumacher at the wheel, it just became unstoppable, and I loved every minute of it.
    (It must have really sucked if you weren’t a fan).
    The strategies of Brawn were usually brilliant and Michael’s ability to do what he’s told made them work. Sometimes it was as if Ross was contolling the car with his brain.
    To win a race while parked in the pits was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

    Sure, he had wingmen, but even they new deep down Michael was faster, and Michael needs clear track to really perform. He doesn’t like traffic….who does?

    Putting aside general on-track bullying,
    For me, Jerez’97 and Rascasse are the only real screw-ups. No excuses for Jerez, but it was pretty rude how Williams and McLaren ganged up on him….and Rascasse was just stupid, he could have won that race.

    In fact, if he didn’t mess up Monaco,Melbourne and Hungary that year, I think he could have won the ’06 Championship. He was amazing in Brazil.

    He did what he had to do in Adelaide’94. He deserved the title. Hill could have had it if he’d just waited.
    That’s my reality and I’m sticking with it.

    He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Ferrari, and I miss him in red.
    I hope he gets a competitive car under him next year and can at least catch his team-mate.

  83. Giles says:

    What everybody seems to have forgotten is that the Benetton was an “illegal” car. Senna and many others said so publicly. Unfortunately the FIA were not able to prove it. The F1 rules were later changed because of it. So gaining fame from such a platform and including driving his rival off the track to win the championship seems a little empty.

    1. Mike says:

      Agree Giles – I think that had he started his career now he would be no more than an average driver, no where near Senna, Prost, Clark, etc.

    2. Andy C says:

      And the other WDC titles?

      Will you similarly claim that Webber cheats if he wins (because of the accusations of flexi wing and bib) this year, or that Alonso cheated at Renault with the mass damper.

      These drivers cannot dictate all of the technical elements of the car they drive.

      1. Giles says:

        Certainly not. What I’m pointing out is that the car had “special” electronics which made it infinitely more drive-able thereby elevating his skill to super-skill status.

        His reputation was built on this platform thereby giving him and the dream technical team around him a blank check at Ferrari.

        The technical infringements you allude to have not nearly had the same performance enhancements that the Benetton enjoyed.

      2. For Sure says:

        haha couldn’t agree more.

  84. Phillip says:

    It is amazing the amount of biased and uneducated comments made on this forum regarding Michael Schumacher. People either love him or hate but the reality is he was quick, every team on the grid would have signed him up in a heart beat and he is the most successful driver in f1 history because of a combination of skill/Team/tactics. People on this forum have argued he cheated did this did that, but the reality of it is this is formula one. Senna was no saint, he ran people off the road, and he was as vindictive and as competitive as Schumacher but he cops no flak.
    When you have educated respective team owners/commentators/drivers etc all singing the same song sheet, he is one of the best, it pretty difficult to argue against this.
    His Benneton years were good, but his best years were the Ferrari years. From 96 – 2004. People say Ferrari had the tyre advantage, car advantage, team orders, but people forget Mclaren with team orders won the 98 and 99 titles on Bridgestone Rubber, Williams won with active suspension in the early 90’s. Did McLaren/Williams have an unfair advantage then. F1 is a team sport and to his credit he admits this and it was not only his talent that got him the title. I also think during that era, there was only 1 driver that was as quick as he was and that was Mika, the rest until Alonso got competitive were not even close consistently. This has also contributed to his success. My personal opinion is he is the best, and next year provided he has the right machinery he will be challenging again.

    1. Andy C says:

      Yep, I’m surprised at some of the claims that he was somehow not very good and it was this reason and that reason that he won all those world championships.

      I’m not a Michael fan at heart, but goodness me there are some ridiculously biased posters against him.

      You dont win those titles by just having a good car. Just ask DC, Heiki, Seb Vettel, Rubens.

      James,
      whats your favourite year?

      1. James Allen says:

        Probably 1998, or maybe 2000.

  85. F1Fanatic says:

    Best years for him? Benetton days. Best years for his driving? 05-06 because he really fought for it

  86. antonio says:

    definately 92,93,99and 2000 ……THE YEARS HE DIDNT CHEAT

    1. gremlin says:

      nice way to put down things, hadn’t thought of it myself but agree with you
      which bring us to a grand total of… 1 title !

  87. zombie says:

    1994-2002 – Michael was in a class of his own. Love him or hate him, there is no denying the fact that he could have easily moved to Williams or Mclaren in the 90s and won a handful of championships readily instead of toiling it out at Ferrari.
    People who talk about tyres,no.1 status etc tend to forget that no team bestows its driver with a priority status unless he is special, and Michael was very special. The deficiencies of his teammates,especially Barichello were terribly visible when the car/tyres were difficult (96-98,2000,2005 for ex).

    There will be new multiple world champs and record breakers but i don’t see another Michael out of the current crop of drivers.The reason being what made Michael were not just his abilities on the track,but his leadership qualities and loyalty towards his team.He was someone who inspired others to pull up their socks and work harder and he displayed a undying loyalty towards Tifosi and Ferrari that few drivers would emulate while in their 20s with 2 titles (Look at Alonso).

    Those who compare him to rookies this season,remember,it is easier to jump from a GP2 car to an F1 car than it is from your couch to an F1 car.And it is more difficult when you are twice as old as others.

    And when i sulk seeing Schumi struggling to get in terms with his car now, i just watch Brazil 2006 to assure myself what this man is capable of.Enuff said!

  88. Matt W says:

    For me it has to be 1994 and 1995 when he had all that youthful aggression. That said I think 96-00 were defining as he was absolutely awesome as the underdog.

    I think 2002 was when he was at his peak, but really enjoyed 2006 as he was back as the underdog playing catchup all year and very nearly pulled it off.

    I’d love to see him back at the front next year for one last run but I have a sad feeling inside that he has just been away too long.

  89. mayhemfunkster says:

    For me, it is 1996-1998, as in 1999 the car was becoming quite good.

    I am not a Schumi fan, but I have Quali from Argentina ’96 burned into my memory. I have never seen such commitment and car control – and I was/am a Jean Alesi fan! To win I think 3 races in the ’96 Ferrari was amazing.

    The ’97 car was a dog too, and to get that to a title decider was very impressive also (with a bit of help for Brawn/Byrne).

    The ’98 car was much better, but the commitment was still there (Hungary) – again very impressive.

    For me, those are the years that support Schumi’s legend, more so than 2000-2004. Winning in (more often than not) the best car means less than these feats to me. In fact, 1995 is more impressive than 2000-2004 because Williams were so quick – and Schumacher together with Benetton made them look like amateurs.

    This year i’ve seen car control from Schumacher, i’ve seen “robustness”, but i’ve not seen the acrobatic commitment. The car may not be helping, but he just doesn’t want it badly enough.

  90. Nick says:

    2003 he was almost gifted the title. The 2003 title should have Montoya’s. If Ferrari had not of moaned at Michelin tyres then Montoya would have won. Also the Indianapolis move that never was.

    His best years for me… Pre-Ferrari or at least the early days of Ferrari. 2000′s onwards were when Schumacher became more hated than loved. While it wasn’t his fault primarily as Ferrari had a dab hand, it was Schumacher at the forefront.

  91. John Player says:

    The best years? Thats a very difficult question, because with Micheal, there are always “yea, but…”-s involved.
    I would pick 2001. He was still sharp back then, but after winning in 2000, was probably more relaxed than ever. Finally he enjoyed a car advantage(in 2001, it was mostly down to reliability though) that his competitors Villeneuve and Häkkinen had in previous seasons. He too could finally afford letting others overtake without banging wheels and take less risks. And unlike 2002 or 2004, you cant tell that there was no opposition. Ferrari was simply more consistent and so was Michael.
    Starting 2003 and onward, his abilities to race started to degradate.
    But to pick one season from that era, 2005 must be it. Ok, he spun off behind a safety car in China. Also Rubens was clearly faster than him at Indianapolis, before he got a radio message.
    But he had similar moments in 2004 as well(with a very competitive car!) so lets discount those worst examples of 2005. What remains is a hungry driver, always ready to fight even if the technical package is not that promising. When compared to the final races of 2004, in 05 we had clearly more motivated and masterful schuey.

    1995 was good too. Benneton was probably more reliable than Williams, their tactics worked better as well. But Michael was always there to make good use of it.

    The other nominees are 96, 97 and 98, while 96 is the strongest of them. In 1997 he looked very good too. It might have been a fantastic story for F1. Unfortunately he got tired or sth, passing under yellow flags in Austria, weeks later the Jerezgate thing.
    In 1998 he coped well, but started to make mistakes. He even developed a disease, which quite often made him go off when leading. He looked nervous and somewhat impatient.

    In conclusion, the best years were the ones which didnt force him to be the attacking guy in terms of point scoring table.
    So the winners are 1995, 1996, 2001, 2005.

  92. Red5 says:

    Most of us look back at the statistics, which you have to admit show Schumi’s career in a good light, and also try to remember some of the classic races.

    Are there other metrics that perhaps we don’t see that could help solve the conundrum who is the best driver? For example; from cars telemetry, braking points + pressures, number of mid-corner corrections, reaction times, exit speeds, throttle control, technical feedback, even the number of hours spent training in the gym.

    To be honest, both cars and tracks have changed since the 90s. But have the basic driver skills also changed or evolved?

  93. Red5 says:

    James, which drivers and teams send you a Christmas card each year?

    1. James Allen says:

      Great question! A few of the drivers and most of the teams. It’s not dependent on what I write if that is what you are getting at!!

  94. Ross Neilson says:

    I think the early days at Ferrari, with a poor car, are in some ways the most impressive. Michael won some races he had no right to, which is the mark of a top driver almost as much as a title or two is.

    For me personally I can’t consider Schuey one of the greats, despite the record books indicating otherwise. The cheating during the Benetton years, bullying tactics on track and the way he nobbled his team-mates leave a big stain on his “legacy”.

    All of that said I don’t like seeing him struggle now either. He should retire.

  95. Richard says:

    I’d say probably ’06, since it’s when i was old enough to appreciate how good he was. Brazil is the race most inprinted in my mind.

    James, slightly off subject. But to you is Schumacher the best ever, and do you think he would have tied the title up in a Red Bull this year, despite being out for the 3 years?

    1. James Allen says:

      Senna’s the best ever for me. No I don’t think he would have won title in a Red Bull this year

  96. Nesa says:

    Regarding lack of competition during 2000-2004 seasons. I made a list of drivers who were or will become a WDC, and who raced in those years.

    2000 (4) Hakkinen, Schumacher, Button, Villeneuve
    2001 (6) Hakkinen, Schumacher, Button, Villeneuve, Raikkonen, Alonso
    2002 (4*) Schumacher, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Button, *
    2003 (5*) Schumacher, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Button, Alonso, *
    2004 (5*) Schumacher, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Button, Alonso, *

    * represents Mark Webber – if he manages to win this year ;)

    Compare to
    2010 (4*) Button, Hamilton, Schumacher, Alonso, *

    * represents possible new WDC (Webber or Vettel)

    We can argue that in 2000-2004 Michaels competitors weren’t in a position to beat him for hundreds of reasons. I just wanted to make a point. His 2000-2004 era was no different than any, regarding driving talent on the grid. The question is – did Michael made it look different?

    1. Ajay says:

      Button debuted in 2000. So the 2001 grid had 7 past and future WDCs. That’s quite a large number!

    2. Ajay says:

      Of course, 10 years down the line once could look back at 2010 and add maybe Vettel, Rosberg, Kubica (maybe even Kobayashi and Petrov! Who knows?) But I agree with your point that the current grid isn’t necessarily more talented than previous years.

  97. S2K says:

    I think his best year was 2003 followed by 2000.

    2003 started very badly for him with no wins in the first three races and then he had a drop during the summer again without any wins for five consecutive races. Yet, he managed to come back and win the title ahead of Raikkonen and Montoya.

    In contrast, he started 2001 brilliantly with three wins in the first three races but then he dropped during the European summer season (four retirements in five races, three in the first lap!) but he managed to finish the year in style with four wins.

    These years were the two where he showed everyone what to be a Formula 1 driver really is.

  98. Tim says:

    I’ve been watching F1 for long enough to have seen all of Michael Schumacher’s races.

    1994 should have stood out as the season when two true greats went head to head for the title. But Senna’s death robbed us of that. For many fans the events at Imola, not to mention the technical scandals later in the year and the way the title was finally decided, will always overshadow Schumacher’s record in ’94. But looking back at it with a greater degree of detachment I think it shows Michael at his early best. After Senna’s death, Schumacher stood head and shoulders above his peers – as shown by his early season dominance, including the incredible drive to second in Spain using only one gear. At the time I recall willing Damon Hill to take the title, but in retrospect it was Schumacher who stood out as being consistently the best driver by far.

    1995 I’d put in a different category because it was like we were seeing a different Michael. No scandals to speak of and Williams clearly had the faster car. Schumacher was generally excellent and it showed in his drives at Spa and the Nurburgring.

    I don’t want to underplay 1996 but it was a year when Michael was doomed to a supporting role. I’m probably committing myself to a minority opinion when I mark out 1997. Again, like 1994, it was a season that will forever be remembered for the way the title was decided. But up to that point it was a year when Schumacher outperformed his car to an enormous degree, while Jacques Villeneuve often underperformed but had fortune on his side (see the Luxemberg GP). I think this was the year when another driver (Heinz-Harald Frentzen) joked that the best way of livening up the show was to ban Schumacher and Adrian Newey… for it was essentially the two of them who were competing.

    While there are individual races that stand out in 1998-2001 (Hungary ’98, Imola ’99, Malaysia ’99, Japan 2000) I didn’t think any of those years were overall Michael’s best. When given a dominant car in 2002 and 2004, however, Schumacher again took things to another level.

  99. Stephen says:

    A lot of people say that Michael always had the best car. This is not true really. The years when he had the best car were the years when Rubens came second in the championship. In 2005 Michael came third in the championship and Rubens came only 8th. Micheal scored more points than Fisichella managed in the title winning Renault. Michaels ability to make the best of inferior cars was amazing. Therefore when he had the best car he was always going to dominate(2001, 2002, 2004)

  100. captainj84 says:

    in agreement with a lot of these comments abou 96-99 great to watch but at the same time never a fan. i felt he was more bully than a sportsman. Although i am not ruling him out after this poor season, i’ve saved up 100 quid and i’m goin to the bookies to put it on him being world champion next year. I think it is a strong possibility, with brawn and the team focussing on the 2011 car, the new tyres meaning all driver will be on the same boat when it comes to learning the new characteristics, but most of all i am sure michael will have even more determination than ever to prove his critics wrong!

  101. Slaven says:

    Definitely those years when he was playing catch up with Williams and McLaren, including 2000. when he finally won the title with Ferrari – That race in Hungary 1998. stands out! But, let’s not forget his performances as that one in Belgium 2002. when he destroyed competition. He was particularly impressive when his machinery was spot on – I never saw Villeneuve or Button doing that in that manner when they had superior car (left out Hakkinen for reason, cause he was worthy champion)

  102. Matt says:

    Great sportsmen are at least partly defined by their greatest adversaries, and in Schumacher’s case it was Hill and Hakkinen. For that reason I’d rate the ’94/’95 seasons and the ’98/’99/’00 seasons as his best. He didn’t win in ’98 and ’99 but he put in some amazing drives. He was great in ’97 too, despite the Jerez hiccup.

    1. Mike says:

      Hiccup!!!! Deliberately trying to take Villenueve of the race is cheating (and dangerous) and he was rightly punished for it. As he should have been in 1994.

      1. Matt says:

        Tongue firmly in cheek.

  103. sean k says:

    love him or hate him he is almost certainly the best of his era and of that there is no doubt .nufff said …long live (race) shumi………………

  104. Pete Singleton says:

    Definitely the 1998 season, taking the title down to the wire against a McLaren car that lapped the entire field in the first race!
    Some amazing races that year, his Hungary win was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

  105. Tim Parry says:

    I think as with any driver, the years in the wilderness show the true character. 2005 when Ferrari got complacent saw him squeeze every last drop of performance out of a car that wasn’t tin the same league as the Renault. Never was that big of a fan but you have to tip your hat to a showing like that.

  106. moschum says:

    his best years were, for sure, in the seasons when he didn’t have the best car, and had to fight. this would be 96,97,98,99,05.
    00 and 06 were thrilling as ferrari had developed the cars in those seasons to match the competition by the end (mclaren and renault). schumachers come back from 24 points behind in 2006 was extraordinary, to then be leading the championship with 2 rounds to go – proving that he was still the benchmark driver (this notion that Alonso had usurped schumi’s thrown is ridiculous, he hardly dominated)

    2005 for me, is probably his best year, where he pulled maximum from the car, and then some, to finish 3rd, in a car/tyre combo that clearly wasn’t anywhere near as good as the mclaren/renault michelin-shod packages. Look where he finished compared to barichello (and barichello still acts as if he could have fought michael given an equal chance? haha)

    however, even the ‘boring’ years, 01,02,04 (oh yes, more amazing drives in 03 in a 3 way title battle) when he had clearly the best machinery, he used it like no other driver has done, totally dominating weekend after weekend.

    Take the 2004 british grand prix where he was sat in 4th and leapfrogged everyone to 1st by putting in a succession of stunning laps.

    Which is what makes this 2010 season…so puzzling. i dont believe he’s simply ‘lost it’. look at heidfeld, back after only half a year, and a second off the pace of his teammate.

    compare that to michael in bahrain, whos race pace matched that of nico’s.

    that tells you all you need to know about his natural speed. i think once he has a car that he can then setup for speed, rather than setting up simply to get it to handle how he likes it (at a detriment to other parameters), he will be flying.

    1. moschum says:

      (and he clearly still has the ruthlessness and racecraft, which he has demonstrated in spades in 2010……)

  107. Jeroen says:

    To me, he had brilliant seasons when he didn’t win the title and lesser ones where he did. The seasons that stand out to me are:
    1995: Michael simply outclassed Coulthard, Alesi and Hill)
    1996: pulled astonishing feats in a terrible car, his Spa win was truly special
    1997: his car was a bit better, but no one would’ve come so close to the title as he did

    He had a ragged spell in ’98 and ’99 (no shortage of great performances, just some uncharacteristic mistakes borne from frustration), no wonder he had that crash, and the time off did him a world of good.

    In 2000 up to 2002 he was at his absolute best, with all the reflexes and hunger of his early years now tempered by experience and of course the backing of the Ferrari team at its absolute peak.

    He lost a bit of his edge in the last four years of his career, and to me his hunger seemed to be flagging in ’05 and ’06, which gave room to Alonso to become the class of the field.

  108. Michael says:

    2000 was his finest season winning his first title with Ferrari. Two of my most memorable moments from this season –
    His breakdown at the post race interview at Monza following a several race drought
    Qualifying at Suzuka as he and Mika traded fast laps. The camera shot of Michael as he sat in his car in the garage watching his timing monitor and grining as Mika had just topped his time was unforgettable!

  109. Pogi says:

    Spain 1994 – Michael ended up in 2nd place in a car stuck in 5th gear for more than half the race. I think that was his peak in terms of raw driving talent.

    But look at Shanghai 2006 – he conjured an amazing wet qualifying laptime to be the only Bridgestone runner in the top 10, then went on to win in the rain.

    12 years on he was still crazy fast.

    Could Hamilton touch that?

    Don’t forget, he trounced Button and Sebastian Loeb in equal buggies at the ROC after his retirement. If it had open wheels, he could always do magic with it.

    If you’re counting racecraft, look at Imola 2006 – he and Ross Brawn suckered Alonso into an early stop and basically stole the win. Those two were bandits from start to finish.

  110. Kev says:

    Think I am a bit late!

    Anyways, I would say each and every year when Schumi was racing is our best year. As for his best years, I would say it is his period of domination(2000-2004). If not for Schumi we wouldn’t have got this much to talk and think about. Some may focus on his negatives and some may look at his positives but he is always in there in whatever that is related to F1.

    I think he is a distinguished individual, a fierce competitor on track and very helpful off it. He has donated so much to charity(Tsunami fund etc) and has got an enormous appetite for success which I would say has driven him towards these many WDCs.

    Looking forward to his drive in 2011. Hoping to see the Michael Magic once more and his trademark jump on the top step of the podium.

    Thanks for the article James!

  111. zombie says:

    James, wondering if you remember Mika Hakkinen’s ‘exhibition test’ in 2003 or 2004? He was painfully slow in the test and admitted that it was not easy to get back into these modern day F1 cars after a long gap as they progress in “lightyears”!

    Few people realize how difficult it must be for a 41 yr old to jump from his recliner into an F1 car and go fast compared to young guy who ‘progress’ to the next stage of racing.About his best years, he was ruthlessly efficient from 1991-2006, 91-2000 were great as he was playing catch up.2001,02 and 04 showed what he could have done if had the best car on the grid.If he had made a habit of jumping to winning teams,he could have retired with atleast 9 or 10 titles IMHO.Cheers!

  112. My Tuppence... says:

    Up to 2006 they’re all special years.

    Even 2005 if you only take into account of Imola.

    1995 was when I became a fan and gained respect for his savvy skills.

    If I had to pick 1 year then it would be 1996.

    A top class not only wins in the best cars but the other and more important asset (Button take note) also in a lesser one – one that usually contends for podiums in lesser hands.

    The other key thing is that not only did he drive a lesser car and got 3 wins out of it (I must point out I do not regard Spain as a great win, more like Benetton had a better forecast/prediction!), he did it without key players like Ross Brawn calling the shots and Rory Bryne designing the car.

    Ferrari was still in disarray despite Todt taking helm. John Barnard had insisted on working in England and engine built Marranello. Barnard was waning. The car had a poor aero balance.

    The other point is that in the same year Benetton built a similar car to the previous year. Even the highly rated Alesi struggled at times perhaps proving the diminutive Frenchman one of the most over-rated drivers in F1!

  113. Craig Knight says:

    I personally think that his best season was probably 1998. An inferior car to the McLarens that year and still managed to win races and challenge for the title to finish eventually second. A season where

    However overall I do not feel Schumacher was the greatest and found it hard to find a ‘best season’ as I don’t really respect the man in spite of his achievements.

    In 1994 the traction control accusations (which Benetton openly admitted were there, 10 button presses and there you have it) Then knocking off Hill in Australia. Up until that point he was my favorite driver in F1 but he completely tarnished his reputation that year. The following years justified my stance but there are too many things to list.

    Contrary to this I recently have completely changed my opinion of Senna, I think the media’s representation of him did him no favours.

  114. JB says:

    For me it has to be the Benneton years. The car was a dog compared to the Williams. He drive mostly just over the limit, continually catching the car as it broke away. If the back end of the car wasn’t hanging out he was on a slow lap. At Benneton he won purely on his skills.

    At Ferrari his wins tended to be more the result of being in the best team. The design of the car, Brawn’s brilliant strategies, tyres designed specifically for him, a second driver to help him win if required and so on.

    One of the things that sort the good from the greats is the ability to adapt their driving style to over comings of the car, Look at how much the gap between him and Rubens narrowed as the Ferrari got better.

    Senna had that ability to instinctivly adapt to suit the car. Schumacher did in the early days but seemed to lose it over the years. The Schumacher of the 90′s wouldn’t be blaming the shortcomings of the Mercedes, he would be going all out to beat Rosberg.

    Going into fantasy land, how many titles would he have won if Senna had not been killed? I admire Hill, but would Senna have been faster in the sister Williams in 94/5?

    Prior to his death in 94, Senna was the favourite of Shell and Marlborogh. When those two put up the money to start the ‘dream team’ at Ferrari in 97, would Senna have been the chosen driver?

    If Senna went to Ferrari, would Schumacher have been at McLaren in the late 90s when they were dominant?

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