Title rivals pay tribute to retiring Schumacher
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Nov 2012   |  7:08 pm GMT  |  108 comments

On the eve of their championship deciding race in Brazil, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso paid tribute to Michael Schumacher, who will start his 306th and last Grand Prix on Sunday, aged 43.

The pair come at it from different angles; Alonso raced hard against Schumacher from when he got a competitive car in 2003 and they contested the 2006 world championship, which Alonso won.

“I think we will always remember the privilege to race and compete with someone like Michael that will be record in history of Formula One, maybe for a very long time and we’ve been there, we’ve been in the grid close to him,” said Alonso. “As Michael said, some good fights and great respect on the circuit and always constantly learning with someone that changed a little bit this sport.”

Their battles in Imola in 2005 and 2006 are among many highlights in the Alonso versus Schumacher history.

Vettel meanwhile, grew up in a Germany which was obsessed with Schumacher’s first career; 13 million Germans tuning in every week to see him win his seven F1 world titles. And Schumacher has clearly been a force of encouragement for the man who takes on his mantle in the eyes of German fans.

“I think it’s a little bit different for me because obviously I had the privilege to meet Michael when I was a small kid,” said Vettel in Thursday’s FIA press conference at Interlagos. “He was my childhood hero, he was a true inspiration back then, for me and for many other kids, as he mentioned, in Kerpen.

“He was taking care of the championship held in Kerpen and came to the last race, gave all the trophies to everyone, every child, more than 100 at the time, so he was very patient and now, obviously, we understand that the busy schedule that he had, taking that extra time for the fans but especially for us, for the kids who were racing, was something very special, a very special memory.

“When I met him the first time, obviously I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t want to ask something stupid but for sure, I remember these moments and then later on. Today I think it’s a little bit different because you are more grown up, you have a normal relationship so when I talk to him now, it doesn’t feel like talking to my childhood hero, it feels like talking to Michael so I see the person rather than what he has achieved but obviously, if you remind yourself of that and the fact that I was racing against him for the last couple of years, unfortunately not as close as he probably shared with Fernando, but still that thought or that image was very very far away when I was a small kid, because obviously he was already in Formula One but for me it was a dream so very far away but very special for the last couple of years, very special the relationship we share and I think he will always be an inspiration for myself.”

* Read all about the background stories to Schumacher’s final season and the decision by Mercedes to replace him with Lewis Hamilton in the new book “James Allen on F1 2012- The Year of Living Dangerously”, published on December 7th at £10-99. JA Signed copies can be pre-ordered by clicking THIS LINK

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James – Is it true he’s invited all the other drivers to a celebration after the GP in Sao Paolo; all those he hasn’t hit, forced off the road or blocked? Should be a Big Night!


Given your qualification, it sounds like a rather small one to me!Or were you being sarcastic?


Yes Simon, I was being a bit sarky, please see my earlier post above. If you know the American political expression, ‘Lame Duck’, he’s been that since Lewis was announced as the new guy.

Mercedes should get a grip and have given a young driver a shot instead of persevering with the old guy.

Besides, the purveyors of Schumacher merchandise would be annoyed at the loss of credibility and sales!


I don’t know if its just rose tinted glasses (often the case when remembering the by gone years of f1) I hated Schumacher with a passion during his first career, especially the dominant streak and would root against him passionately and shout at the TV when he took pole. But, looking back now it occurs to me just what a master class and brilliance we were watching.

What differentiates him I think from Vettels recent dominance is that he won races if not championships that he had no right to win in a dog of a Ferrari in 96 – 99 where as Vettel has gone straight into dominance in a clearly very good car. I think, like it or not but if a driver wins in a dominant car it de values it a bit, its just human nature that an underdog winning the day against the favourite is better.

The way F1 is now I think the car is more important than the driver, the cars are not designed to be effective when man handled round a track like they were in the 80s – 90s such is the development in tyres and aero. They are precision tools designed to be driven smoothly and cleanly. I also think that the general standard of the drivers is much higher now, look at the amount of champions and former race winners we have racing, so an outstanding driver doesn’t stand out so much.

Now for something I never thought I would say, apart from his few infamous “seeing red” moments, Aus 94, Jerez 97, Monaco 06, Hung 10 etc I actually think he was a pretty fair and “un-whinging” driver, very hard and a little ruthless but fair. He built and aura round him that scared people, much like people would get the fear when they saw Sennas day glow yellow helmet coming up behind people would cack themselves and get out of the way of the red baron in his Ferrari. He certainally seems to whinge less than his modernday counterparts constantly with the “I have no grip” “did Charlie see that” “This car is shit” comments, Schumacher just seemed to get on with it, possibly because for the large part of his career he did have grip, didnt care if Charlie saw what happened behind him and didnt have a shit car.

I think his dominance did damage the sport though, I know people now that wont watch F1 because it is “boring” claiming the same people win all the time and there is no overtaking. They obviously and openly admit they havent properly watched a race for ages but are still scarred from the “Schumi years”. You cant exactly blame him for that though, what was he supposed to do, deliberately stop winning?

Anyway I am waffling (as I so often do) but I think the sport will be sad to see him go again, its a shame he didn’t manage to get a few wins during his comeback but reliability, lack of luck (he was due some to be fair) and a bit of careless driving put paid to that. I hope he gets a solid result in Brasil to send him off with, I cant see a win but what a fairy tale that would be, winning the race that had he won in 2006 he would never have came back in the first place!

Farewell Michael [mod]


Wow… What a fantastically written comment… I agree with you a 100% although I always have been a Schumi Fan.. Well said, and farewell Michael, you will be missed, surely by me. The end of an era.


2nd time did not work for MS and am gutted for this. I also enjoyed MS’s on track fights with Mika Hakkinen a lot.


Maybe he lost raw pace but what impressed me was that even at age 43, while his younger rivals were obviously sweating buckets and seemed beat after a full race, he still looked like he was hardly taxed. And yes I know, he didn’t always finish the race.


[mod] He drove into Damon Hill to win his WDC, attempted to do the same with Jacque Villeneuve. Parked his car in the middle of Monaco to ruin qualifying for those behind him, attempted to drive Barrichello off the pit straight, and countless others, and most recently Button in COTA.


But by the standards of sportsmanship that we parents try to instil in our kids, we see through these hollow individuals.

F1 may fete Schumacher. But it’s only because it suits F1’s marketing machinery. [mod] I don’t believe Schumacher truly feels he is respected. Everyone is just gaming the system around him. [mod]

Had to get it off my chest. Thank you for indulging me. Back to our world of light F1 entertainment, away from the seriousness of moral decay in society.


Hi James

As this is my first post I would like to start by saying thank you very much for all the effort you have put into this website – it has enriched my enjoyment and following of F1 no end over the last few years. Thank you.

I’m actually a big fan of Alonso but am increasingly frustrated at the fairly recent and popular habbit of citing ‘Bespoke Bridgestone Tyres’ as a dominant explanation for Schumacher’s most successful period.

Journalists now seem to cite it more often – and as a little explored given – but to the best of my (limited) knowledge I’m unaware of any serious piece of investigative work with reference to first hand sources that explains the extent of any real advantage relative to his teammate and competitors (including on the same tyre) and how this was achieved. What, for example, were the real properties of those mystical tyres which gave his driving style the edge?

In the first instance I think it would be incredibly interesting to explore in more detail and I’d be really grateful if you would be able to signpost such work – or possibly provide a bit more insight – as I also feel there’s a danger Schumacher’s achievements will in years to come all too easily be ‘marked down’ according to this theory which – at the moment from my perspective – doesn’t seem to have enough explanation behind it.


I think Fernando, Sebastian and Michael are very similar. All are workaholics and all are very bad losers. I like that about them.


MS changed the meaning of fitness and discipline in F1. Many young drivers applied what MS did I’m sure. But he’s not a perfect man though. Wish MS the best after Interlagos.


In the press conference, Michael seemed quite OK with the fact that ‘the project’ had been a failure. [More so than his fans] although deep down it must have really hurt that no matter how hard he tried, Mercedes continued to mess up. Its not just that the original ideas didn’t work but the slowness of development and new parts for the car during the season.

I hope that he [Michael] has enjoyed a few moments, Monaco qualifying perhaps, and even Canada 11 before Charlie Whiting lost him a podium by allowing DRS again, but there you go. I have watched every race that Michael has driven in Formula One,all live except for one! I think maybe now is time to go, so, so long, farewell and thanks for all the memories. Michael has made the last twenty years so interesting.


That’s some record, all races bar one!

I’ve missed 5 races live since 1989 when we got Eurosport at home, though to be honest I am counting 10 or 11 live radio broadcasts in there, most recently the Korean GP as I was mid Atlantic on a ship.

I’ll miss Michael Schumacher for sure and for those of us a certain age, it really is the end of an era. I plan on watching every session this weekend, to catch all the moments of a great season and Michaels final laps. I was there in 2006, but didn’t travel this time as I think it’s different and I have no regrets as I saw him at Silverstone in July.


So! For all of us ‘of a certain age’ the end of an era! The last time I saw Michael live was Melbourne 2001, it seems like a long time ago, actually it was a long time ago but disabled access is not motor sports circuits strong suit.

Watching Sky yesterday, I must say that even the Michael knockers were trying quite hard to be polite, except Ted but nothing new there. I liked the remark by Martin that now he and Jonny could stop therapy now that their team mate was going. Michael has been very diplomatic and is making his point by not saying anything about Mercedes, I wonder if they know how lucky they are?

Thanks also to James for giving us somewhere to have a little rant!


I think it is important to point out that what makes him losing today is the exact same reason what made him look unbelievable back in the day.

He’s got the heart, the will to win no matter what. Unfortunately, the heart alone cannot overcome the physics.


I think we were fortunate to witness that poetry in motion.

People talk about him having the best car etc.. who didn’t win with the best car?

On the other hand, he could have gone easier path by signing Williams & Mclaren back in 90s. He went to a team that didn’t have a gear box department.

There are obviously a lot of resentments from the media and one can only feel bad for them..

It’s always easy to talk about who had advantage when the game is over, but aren’t we watching a “sport” where everyone’s job is to do everything they can to gain unfair advantage?


I’d happily trade 6 drivers on the grid next year for Schumacher to stay. His performances were not that bad and as Sebastian Vettel has proved, in a fast car a better than average driver can still easily win. I’m not even a Schumacher fan but he is in many ways a modern ambassador of the sport.

I forget which race it was at, think it was the race after the Singapore Grand Prix. It was on an Asian network. In Singapore Schumacher had crashed into the back of someone, and in this race someone crashed into him and ruined his race. The reporter asked Schumacher if he felt the growing number of accidents with young drivers recently in races was a sign that younger drivers were not showing respect or racecraft on track given that his race was ruined by another young driver. Schumacher paused for a moment, smiled and said something to the tune of “Well in the last race in Singapore I misjudged and crashed into Vergne, and i think people say I am not so young anymore…” smiling. I feel this sort of response sums up the sort of experience, and humor that is seriously lacking in F1. Were losing a larger than life character that represents a significant chunk of Formula Ones history. He is the last of the champions to compete with anyone from the golden era of F1. I’m someone who hated him at Ferrari and always rooted against him, but I would gladly watch Schumacher than listen to his blonde pretender princess squeal about in the fastest car.


Thank you F1fan4life, a refreshing response. Schumi fan or not, we are losing a larger than life character, a man who towered the sport for three generations, racing against greats like Piquet, Alboreto, Mansell, Senna, Prost, Alesi, Berger, Hakkinen, and more recently, Alonso. Schumi, you will be missed.


Good luck Mrs Schumi in keeping him busy. Lock up those motorbikes !


He should be slipping away quietly embarrassed at how much of Mercedes money he has wasted. Likewise, the Directors of Mercedes should be asked questions by the shareholders as to why they didn’t put a faster driver into the car as soon as they realised that Schumacher wasn’t up to it.

Even Britney wasn’t able to beat Mark Webber when they were at Team Willy, so who’s to know if the car is any good?


I remember 2006 as the last high quality championship battle. Schumacher and Alonso were in a league of their own. It was a thrilling season and one which I savour very much. Right up there with Schumacher v Hakkinen in 2000 and 1998.


Agreed, it was a great season, full of great racing. If only Shumacher would have continued at Ferrari for a couple of years and Mclaren had given Alonso the support he deserved we would have seen many more of those great battles.


I totally agree. That’s not the way to treat a two-time world champion when you signed him.


A controversial figure and not the greatest in the eyes of many, but for me he remains unsurpassed in what he achieved at his peak. In my opinion, he is the greatest the sport has seen.

Even at the age of 43, when the Mercedes was capable, he proved he was capable too, at least in terms of raw pace. One statistic has it that if he finished in the position he retired from in the first 6 rounds this season he would have been leading the championship going in to round 7.

Never realising that potential and the occasional shocker of an error surely encouraged his retirement. Many say the car made his first career, I would argue that, combined with aging, the car is also the reason his second career was so mediocre. Had we seen Schumi in a Red Bull, or even finishing those first six races this season, it would have been a different narrative.

Bernie summed it up nicely when he said it’s a shame that Michael won’t be leaving a winner, because he is. A true great, and still my biggest inspiration.


Well written, Jack. I agree.


For me he will always be the best. Wishing you a great last race Schumi!

In other affairs, I reckon that last sentence from Vettel could rank as the longest in history. Kid just keeps breaking records.


But no one will have the MS jump on the podium. Spectacular.


Michael, I think inspirationally, has fallen on the Mecredes sword. I wouldn’t imagine too many other drivers, if given the burden of driving the Mercedes over the last three seasons, would say that it is more down to them that results haven’t come to fruition.

In my opinion, this is one of the most significant traits that separates Michael from other drivers.

Ultimate team player – not just a person around whom a team is centered.

He didn’t constantly hammer on the fact that his car wasn’t the fastest (even though he didn’t have a standout car until 2001 – three WDC later). He doesn’t rant over the radio about how the car is ‘undrivable’ so that everyone can appreciate the difficulty.

Listening to drivers of the stature of Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel go on numerous times about ‘being the man’, or ‘racing against Newey’ or having a dummy spit, I can’t help but think that Michael will forever be a unique player in the annals of F1.

Sebastiaan Hekman

Fully agree with you. I appreciated always his attitude of not “moaning, complaining” in public. I wonder how he has addressed the lack of performance, reliability issues behind closed doors at Merc?


After reading the whole article I realized how different Vettel and Alonso are. Alonso’s comments were short and on the subject, while Vettel’s is half of article.

Just like on the podium, Alonso is short in his interviews, while Vettel tells us everything he did for the whole race :))

I thought it was funny


Vettel’s always been very verbose. Sometimes it’s nice to have a detailed account but sometimes he does go on a bit. Of course you then have Kimi on the opposite of the scale! “No.” 🙂


Vettel is certainly a more chatty guy and media friendly.


and he thinks he’s funny…..

Val from montreal

Cant wait for the brazilian race to end , Im retiring myself as a f1 viewer , for the second and last time just like I stopped watching after 2006 …. Whats the point really ? 6 years later people still dont know who exactly is THE best driver in f1 …. Is it Vettel , or is it Hamilton ? At least from 94 to 2006 we knew which driver it was … Now today its all about hype and saturation if media exposure abd marketing. Schumacher’s records will be safe and secure for a very very long time …he never ever complained when things were not looking good ….Schumacher will always be the greatest competitor and driver motorsport will ever see …


Why does the line up need to be quantified for it to be watchable? Just accept that, as a broad spread, the line up contains a wealth of talent with individual strengths balancing things out depending on circumstance?


+1 RE: people wanting the talent on the grid to be quantified.

Reminds me of a line from an Arctic Monkeys song:

“Sorry sunshine it doesn’t exist… it wasn’t in the top 100 list.”


Their battles in Imola in 2005 and 2006 are among many highlights


I don’t whether it’s because am a biased Schumi fan but I think Imola 2006 was more spectacular.

For sure, Alonso too defended well against a faster car at Imola 2005 but the thing with Imola 2006, Schumi fed Alonso a dummy which he gladly took.

You see Schumi was going way too slowly so Alonso and the Renault pit crew got scared that Schumi was trying to back Fred into the chasing pack especially Rubens so they could jump him in the pits.

So Alonso took the dummy and pitted early only for Schumi to put in a rapid in-lap which got him back in the lead after he pitted a lap after which was quite a feat because Alonso’s Renault was so much faster.


@ CarlH

Eh, Fred is simply Fernando in English, comprende?


Yeah, comprende…. but he’s not English is he?

Use his proper name.


Schumi is Schumi !


I know they both have different relationships with Michael, and Vettel’s is more personal (than Fernando’s), but I still thought Vettel’s tribute was really nice! He does sometimes go on a bit with an anecdote or extended summary but it provides an extra personal touch and I like that. Apparently he also gave a notably warm eulogy to Professor Sid Watkins when he won in Singapore, recognising Sid’s impact fully even though he probably didn’t meet him too many times.


Absolutely, as much as I dislike Vettel I can’t help but admire his respect for the sport and the history of the sport.


Nice words, very professional and politically correct of them. I’d love to have heard the real version: might it have sounded something like, ‘Thank God he’s going before he kills someone?’

A very talented professional driver but a flawed man. Nigel Roebuck’s summary on the MotorSport website says it all.


May I also add…

while Schumacher’s statistics will be present for the rest of history, Roebuck’s words will be tomorrow’s tramps toilet paper.


I don’t think Roebuck’s opinion has ever really counted when it comes to Michael Schumacher. He is your very perfect example of a Bitter Brit.


Yes, I am amazed at how angry Roebuck is about Schumacher. Everything that seems to irritate him about how he, in part, achieved his success is echoed by other greats.

Fangio and Moss had teammates ready to act as a number two, which in olden times meant coming in and handing your car over. His beloved Prost was at least as politically adept when Mansell was his teammate. Rough conduct on track was Senna’s department too. And all the greats had a team, or suppliers, trying to do their best to support a guy who seemed to work harder than the others, complementing natural talent.

But, no doubt Roebuck read the Pat Symonds interview in Motorsport, where Symonds pointed out that most drivers he worked with didn’t know their mechanic’s names, but Schumacher knew their names, and their wive’s names, and their kid’s names.

I loved that Schumacher went to Ferrari and took them back to the top. It was a great era to live through. When he came to F1 I was 20, now I’m 41! Good grief…

My favourite Schumacher moments; Hungary ’98, Monaco ’96 (?) in the rain. Second at Barcelona with only 5th gear (!) in ’95, pole at Monaco at 43… Fighting hard with Hakkinen, Montoya, Senna, Hamilton, Jacques, Prost, Piquet, Alonso.

Suzuka 2000, and the radio transmission after he crossed the line.



Nigel Roebuck, brilliant but awfully biased. Watched him recently on tv, he’s now contrary as well.


Nigel Roebuck…very bitter. Read some of his contemporary articles from the 90’s – rough reading from an objective standpoint.


Don’t you think you could apply that summary to many of the great champions of F1??


Thank you for your response, James. You know much more about all of these people on a personal and professional level than me, of course, and I am sure you see the flaws in all the other drivers too. Of course there is no such thing as the perfect man (although I am sure my wife would disagree).

In the case of Schumacher, however, my reference was specifically to his on-track behaviour which all too often went beyond what was acceptable. Someone later in this thread has made the comment that Schumacher knew his mechanics’ wives’ and kids’ names and I don’t doubt that he was a great driver to work with and obviously inspired tremendous loyalty in those around him.

I’m afraid, though, that I and many others will never be able to view his achievements without their being tainted by his dodgy and often dangerous actions on the track, and I am genuinely sorry about that.


And to many of us…


A genius who isn’t flawed isn’t a genius in my opinion.


I think pretty much all of them.


Excellent MS! no words…

Hope he’ll be quite close to F1 and sometimes will drive modern F1 cars for a lust.


Schumacher apparently bought a ranch in Texas over the weekend (his wife is a big horse fan)

I wonder if he might consider Nascar…


If he even thinks about that he should be charged with treason, haha.

Although, Schumacher vs Montoya Part 2 would be fun.


Be safer riding horses…

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