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August 2002 - Nr. 8


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Racing History

Michael Schumacher Races into Formula One History

TWIG - German Formula One auto racing star Michael Schumacher shot into the record books on Sunday (July 21) with his fifth title victory, the fastest achieved in the history of the sport. With this win at the French Grand Prix, Schumacher became only the second man to win five world driver titles, the other being late Argentine racer and Grand Prix Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Fangio, who racked up his victories nearly a half-century ago.

The German champion, in tears as he emerged from his car at the finish line, was clearly stunned by his own success. "Words fail me. This is overwhelming," he told the press. But he had the characteristic presence of mind to thank his crew of Ferrari engineers, technicians and pit workers, saying "It’s just great to be part of this great team. What we have achieved is something wonderful. I love them, I respect them, I admire them." Schumacher, who won two World Championships in 1994 and 1995 with the Benetton team, has now captured three consecutive championships with the Ferrari crew.

The sweet moment of victory, which Schumacher savored with his wife Corinna, who rarely goes to races, was briefly overshadowed when a race commissioner announced he was reviewing a move Schumacher made in 68th of the race’s 72 rounds. Kimi Raikkonen of Finland was one second ahead of Schumacher. As the drivers approached a hairpin, Raikkonen’s car slipped on an oil patch left on the track by a blown engine only moments before, sending his car wide off the track and allowing Schumacher to pass. "Those last five rounds were the worst of my career, because the pressure was so enormous," Schumacher admitted. The commissioner studied charges that Schumacher had made an illegal pass while the yellow flag, which indicates danger ahead and prohibits overtaking, was being waved, but dismissed the case two hours after the race had finished, adding relief to jubilation in the Schumacher camp.

German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder offered his congratulations in a telegram, calling Schumacher’s victory "a splendid success in your already unparalleled career," and praising the race champion for "having broken nearly every Formula One record and set entirely new standards." Schumacher now holds the records for most Grand Prix victories (61), most world championship points (897), highest point total achieved in a single season (123) and the most speed records for a single lap (47). With six Grand Prix events left to go this year, Schumacher is poised to topple even more records. But with characteristic modesty, the 33-year-old North Rhine-Westphalia native says, "Now I don’t race for records, but for enjoyment. I can look at the statistics when I’m sitting in a rocking chair."

It will be quite a career to look back on. At just four years old, Michael Schumacher was already notching up wins at the go-kart track near his parents’ home. By 16, he was runner-up in the go-kart Junior World Championships and two years later became the European Champion. At 19, he switched to car racing and quickly began to attract notice in numerous German championships. In 1990, he became the Mercedes-Benz team driver in the Sports Car World Championship and the German Formula 3 Champion. By 1992, he had already won his first Grand Prix event, at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps. After placing third in the World Championship of 1992 and fourth of 1993, he landed the world title in 1994. He has gone on to capture four more championship titles and the hearts of racing fans in Germany and around the world.

Schumacher, the best paid racer on the circuit, will donate some of the spoils of his latest victory to benefit others. His manager Willi Weber announced this week that the racing star will contribute proceeds of celebratory memorabilia to the "Brot in Not" (Bread in Times of Need) foundation, which helps developing nations help themselves. Before returning to the track in Hockenheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg), where the German Grand Prix will be held Sunday (July 28), Schumacher, a long-time amateur soccer player, joined a celebrity match on Wednesday to raise money for a program by United Nations cultural organization UNESCO. Schumacher made three assists during the game, but contributed much more simply by suiting up and appearing on the field for a good cause.

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