Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Why racers love to live on the edge
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Dec 2013   |  9:24 am GMT  |  115 comments

“There are those who keep out of mischief, and then there are the adventurers,” the five times world champion Juan Manuel Fangio said in the 1990s. “We racing drivers are adventurers; the more difficult something is, the greater the attraction that comes from it.

“Michael Schumacher is the greatest of the adventurers.”

This quote from the Maestro has always struck me as the best explanation of what drives a true racing driver, but it also sums up the character of Schumacher. He rarely took the easier path.

Whether it be motorcycle racing, in which he suffered a bad accident in February 2009 which prevented him from making a comeback as Felipe Massa’s replacement in August that year, or skydiving or skiing or karting, ordinary life proved too boring for him. That was also what motivated his comeback with Mercedes in 2010 for three more years of challenging himself against the best drivers in the world.

Some drivers reach the end of the road in their careers and realise that the fire has gone out, Damon Hill, is a good example as is Gerhard Berger, Niki Lauda and even Fangio himself. For them a quiet retirement was the goal.

Others still feel the rage to compete and to challenge themselves for many years after their retirement. In many ways it is what makes them feel alive.

And, after challenging themselves by dancing on the edge of calamity for years in a racing car, sadly, many racing drivers come unstuck in the other side of their life, competing in dangerous sports, flying planes and helicopters, continuing to live life on the edge.

One thinks immediately of Robert Kubica’s accident in a fun rally while he was racing F1 with Lotus, then there was Mark Webber, who suffered leg and shoulder injuries while extreme mountain biking.

Tyrrell driver Patrick Depailler broke his legs in a hang gliding accident in 1980.

Didier Pironi was Gilles Villeneuve’s team mate at Ferrari in 1982 and challenged for the world championship. He was killed in a power boating accident.

Emerson Fittipaldi crashed a light aircraft but survived, while rally star Colin McRae fatally crashed a helicopter.

Michael Schumacher is involved in the biggest challenge of his life right now and a fresh medical bulletin is expected mid morning, according to colleagues on the ground in Grenoble.

He is in excellent physical shape and as we all know, is an unbelievable fighter, so he will no doubt give it his all.

His colleagues in F1 and his millions of fans around the world are praying for a positive outcome from this terrible situation.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Hey Jimmy!

Sorry … James.

As usual, the regular readers are

rather knowledgeable and informing.

One may have noticed that I do not

post much. I’d like to keep it that

way. As much as I enjoy the reader

comments, I do not wish to comment.

Is it possible for you to get one’s

IT thingy to just add +/- or thumbs

options to the site?

Thank you for reading this and your

time. GB MS.

Andy … sorry … Andrew. 😉


James, just wish to say thanks for the way you allow us fans to vent our feelings and emotions, and the sensitive manner in which you are dealing with this topic.

Michael Schumacher represents so many things to many of us…hero to some, villain to others (as far as he kept beating “our” driver), but great to all.

I have the same feeling of dread as i did in 1994 when Senna had his accident, and as much as Senna and Prost are part of my teenage years, so Schumacher was part, or IS part, of my adult years of following F1.

My sincere and best wishes to him and Corinne and the children. I pray that the Lord’s will be done in this case, and that He guides the hands of the specialists as they work to save Michael.


Funny that you mention Corrinne

and earlier, Karl Wendlinger was

mentioned. Did they not live


Or, was that H-H Frentzen?


I stand corrected, but Corinne was in a relationship with H-H Frentzen back in the early days when he and Schumacher just started in formula one…i recall they raced together in the WSPC for Mercedes (the brutla but lovely Mercedes C9)…

Schumacher wooed Corinne and apparently that caused a rift between himself and H-H which never really recovered…

Be that as it maym i see good news is that Schumacher is stablem although still critical…each passing day means his chances at recovery improve…


Thank you for your insight and words, James.

I will say from the outset – I am a Michael Schumacher fan, and have been since I was 9-years-old (1994). I have watched on and shared the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and to this day can say I have had the priviledge of watching the greatest driver in Formula One history. I could see beyond the agenda of British media when they reported about him being cold and arrogant. I shed tears with him as he equalled Senna’s 41 victories at the Italian Grand Prix in 2000. I saw the strength of character when he won the 2003 San Marino Grand Prix only hours after learning his mother had passed away. I felt the heartache as his Ferrari stalled on the front row of the Suzuka Grand Prix in 1998… I have felt it all, and I am sharing Corrina, Gina-Maria, Mick, Rolf, and Ralf’s heartache now.

Incidents like this remind us of how fragile life really is. Michael accepted the risk in driving a Formula One car. If anything, he felt in control behind the wheel and did not race for the “rush of adrenaline”, as he did not feel that rush in moments of control.

The saddest thing for me is thinking about how Michael and Ralf lost their mother, Elisabeth, in 2003. She had a fall at her home in Kerpen and had emergency surgery on her brain. She was in a coma for several days but sadly passed away on the morning of the San Marino Grand Prix. The strength of character shown by Michael that day made me love him all the more.

Stay strong, Michael. You are a fighter! x


I feel it is too soon for this article, and it is inappropriate.


Modern F1 suppresses this ‘Adventurer’ spirit…

I used to literally lose my breath watching amazing overtakes, and seeing a driver fight on the limit of the vehicle… modern F1 doesn’t have the same effect at all…

Modern F1 is about the Button type WDC… it has no real meaning. It’s pointless to be honest.

Michael was at the peak of his power when F1 was still a test of skill. I really enjoyed all the Michael years… F1 owes a lot Michael.


David Purley is surely the prime example here, James?


Yes, there are many


I wish him well. Too young to die or live in a vegetable state.


All the best to Michael,you are still the best.Good luck and a speedy recovery.


You have to wonder what the state of the art is in ski helmets.

The obvious question concerns what level of protection an F1 helmet or top of the line motorcycle helmet would have provided in the same circumstances. Just a wild guess but I’d venture to say that the damage might have been significantly less with a ‘real’ helmet.

Accidents like this just go to show that the current levels of protection in speed sports are anything but adequate – case in point being bicycle helmets, most of which only fulfill a basic legal requirement and nothing more.

As these horrendous accidents continue unabated, somebody out there somewhere will invent a cranial airbag device like the new generation MotoGP motorcycle racing suits employ that can sense an impending collision and deploy their safety measures before impact.

If these devices aren’t improved for speed sports like skiing where you essentially operate without brakes, it’s just a hugely tragic waste waste of ingenuity.


Michael, win this one for your family, especially for your son he needs his dad more than anyone now.

They say at a home race fans gives you something extra special, this time you have the world rooting for you.

Get Well Soon Schumi.


It’s a strange time to be an f1 fan today isn’t it? As a commenter above has said- the last time f1 was in the news so much was 1994.

Thinking earlier today I’ve probably spent more time listening/watching/arguing over mac than I have many of my own friends and relatives due to 20 years of Sunday afternoons spent in front of the tv.

I’ve never been a massive msc fan but during his comeback I did come to like the new relaxed man we all saw, and I grew to appreciate his massive achievements. I hope he pulls through for all if iur sakes but mainly for his family, get well soon schumi, much love.


Here’s to a speedy recovery. Michael has the fighting spirit coarsing through his veins, and according to one of the neurosurgeons in the news, psychological strength would help his recovery.


Schumi would win again, we are with you champ… we know you will win, you always do…!!


Crazy day, I find myself checking the internet hourly which really surprised me, I really hope he can pull through and read all the support he is receiving from everybody. It would be great to see him attending the first GP of the year.


May I change the topic, for a moment, and congratulate you James for becoming a ‘Mastermind’ on BBC TV tonight.

I watched it because I wanted to know if I could beat you on my passionate subject of F1.

Then, shock horror, it became clear that your specialist subject was Roald Dahl. So my delighted wife took you on instead on her passionate subject. But you outscored her.

Well done and congratulations for your charity.


Many thanks! It was a great experience


Let’s try hard, everyone of us, in having prays and goodwill thoughts to help Schumi to get out of this incident with the least damage possible. I really believe it would be a game changer. Let’s make all that positive energy to flow around him and help his body heal.

Get back safe and sound Schumi.


I wake up everyday with an autographed lithograph from the 2000 season in our home. Fly Schumi Fly! He has been my sporting hero for a very long time and I can’t comprehnd him going anytime soon….


It’s one of those weeks. In other news Anderson Silva (Schumacher of MMA) severely broke his leg, one of those freak incidents. And then I heard Schumi in comma.

Something terrible happened to my two favorite sportsman.

It’s kinda remind me of the weekend that Massa injuried and another racer died. Very strange.

Anyway thoughts and prayers are with both men.

On a side note, it’s nice to see that critics don’t come out and bash Schumi at this moment. I guess the perspective is the word


Hi James,

Ive just watched your performance on mastermind so first of all well done on doing so well! Interestingly you we were asked about F1 surely just being a case of the driver with the best car winning each time and gave a wonderful explanation of how that wasnt the case and that it was about the best drivers finding that line between being on the limit but not over it which was what captivates us all!

It links nicely to this article and the current Schumacher situation.You mentioned Damon Hill and his father sparng to mind as somebody who lost his life in a plane crash so again not from racing itself but from living a life always on the edge!

Keep up the great work,your passion and enthusiasm is what keeps us all coming back to your site.

I will be donating to CLIC Sargent via your just giving page.

All the best,



Many thanks for that.


Both the type of and place where he was “off piste” skiing was not “on the edge”


Such a sad day, what an awful thing to happen on a Christmas family holiday, can’t stop thinking of all the Sundays that Magical Michael used to light up for F1 fans, we all know how brave he is, and he’s always up for a battle! Come on Michael win this one for your family & all your fans! Praying for you


I always felt really blessed to be living in an era to witness great heroes like Michael Schumacher achieves all his glory.

Now, we are all hoping and praying for his safe recovery. Please get well soon. We all know you’re a man who give it all and you’re always the best!


Michael has been my hero since I was 6 years old (21 now), even though I’ve never met him, I feel like I know him so this really hurts. He’s been the biggest influence on my life, I’ve lived through every moment, good or bad but it would be one of the worst days of my life if he didnt make it. I’m praying for you.


I’d like to sincerely thank James for dealing so sensitively and respectfully in his piece at the top of this article and for allowing regular fans to express their feelings at this awful time.

Not since May 2 1994 have I seen Formula One dominate the front pages to such an extent and for that alone I am very frightened of the worst possible outcome. I shed a tear the day Michael announced his retirement last year, as being just a few years younger, it also meant the end of a particular era in my life.

I grew up reading and listening to the exploits of Lauda and Villenueve but Schumacher was the F1 driver of my time, of my era and despite never actually meeting him, its still possible to feel some degree of association and shared emotion at his success, failures and frustration.

That association now makes the pain and worry, if even from afar, very real for so many Motorsport fans around the world and I am very grateful that we have such an excellent resource as this to share our thoughts and feelings.


Thanks for sharing those thoughts


It is probably a good time to revisit what Mika Hakkinen said about Michael Schumacher in 2003. Mika after retiring from the sport at the end of 2001 said huge contributing factors in his retirement was the birth of his son, and Zanardi’s horrific crash in 2001. He said he couldnt understand what kept Michael going after having conquered pretty much every record in F1. And wondered if it was really worth taking so much risk week after week when you have nothing left to prove.

I guess Michael was too much of an adrenaline junkie to let stay away from risks..and as someone said it is such an irony that after 36 years in motorsports and coming out of it relatively unscathed, he is now battling for his life due to a fall from a ski slope..


Mr Allen ,your articles through out 2013

were simply par-excellence,you should be

congratulated and I for one do.

In regard to Mr Schumacher I admire him for

his “DARE” in all fields,as fair competitor

he was not,particularly in F1 where his fame

was derived from,let us be blunt about it.

Mr Schumacher was in the right time,at the

right place,and the right machinery and the

rest is history.

His believe in fitness at all times will

serve him in a good stead,and he will pull

through no question about it.

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