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Soccer Legend Pele Once Almost Robbed F1 Icon Michael Schumacher of a Race Win After an Inadvertent Mistake

Published 12/30/2022, 8:35 AM EST

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Pele retired from all formats of soccer way back in 1977. However, he remained active in public life for many years to come. He even served as Brazil’s Minister of Sports between 1994 and 1998. Pele made several appearances in different sporting events and the one in Formula 1 almost turned out to be unfortunate for Michael Schumacher.

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The world of soccer suffered a great loss yesterday as the news of Pele’s passing away came out. Pele succumbed to his long illness, fighting colon cancer. The three-time world cup winner enjoyed a cult status among not just soccer fans, but sports fans worldwide. Regarded as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, F1 invited the soccer magician to wave the checkered flag at the Brazilian GP.

via Reuters

As the tradition goes, the first driver to pass the checkered flag is the winner of the race. Pele did wave the flag, however, he was a little late to do it. By the time he waved the flag, race leader Michael Schumacher and his brother in the runner-up position, Ralf Schumacher had already crossed the finish line.


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As per Motorsport Turkiye’s report, Pele waved the checkered flag when Japanese driver Takuma Sato was passing. However, the FIA took the inadvertent mistake into consideration and rightly declared Schumacher the winner.

Pele’s interaction with F1 was not limited to just the 2002 Brazilian GP. He was an admirer of Lewis Hamilton, who he congratulated after the 2021 Brazilian GP win.

Pele praised Lewis Hamilton for waving the Brazilian flag on the podium

Starting the Sprint Qualifying from the last, to finishing P1 on Sunday, the 2021 race weekend at Interlagos was a thrilling one for Lewis Hamilton. Probably the biggest of Ayrton Senna, Hamilton waved the country’s flag on the podium. Overwhelmed by the beautiful visual, Pele took to Instagram to congratulate the race winner.


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via Getty

The soccer legend posted a picture of him with a Brazilian national soccer team’s shirt with a message for Lewis. In the post’s caption, Pele wrote, “A wonderful performance. A day as glorious for you, Lewis, as for us Brazilians. It’s great to see an @f1 driver raise our flag on the podium. Thank you for being who you are.” 


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Lost for words, Lewis simply commented, “Thank you sir.”


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Watch This Story: Inside Michael Schumacher’s Car Collection

Pele leaves a rich sporting legacy behind him. One which the present and the future generation of soccer players can only dream of achieving. He shall continue to be a massive inspiration not just to soccer players, but the fans of the sport in general.

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Written by:

Nischay Rathore


One take at a time

Nischay Rathore is a Formula 1 Author at EssentiallySports. Being a law graduate, he has worked at the Supreme Court of India as well as the High Court of Delhi. However, due to his adherent love for sports, he has now set out to start his journey into the world of Sports Journalism.
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Edited by:

Varunkumaar Chelladurai