“We Were Gobsmacked” – Engineer Reveals How a Young Michael Schumacher Left the Team Speechless
Recently, Racing Point engineer Andy Green spoke in the Beyond the Grid podcast on numerous subjects. Among them, he spoke about working with Michael Schumacher when he debuted in Formula One. At the time, he was the data engineer and he got an up close and personal look at Schumacher’s talent.
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In 1991, the Jordan team headed to Silverstone to give a fresh-faced Michael Schumacher a run. This was after Bertrand Gachot got arrested for assaulting a taxi driver. When Schumacher started out, he was a relatively unknown entity and Jordan were going in blind.
As soon as he hopped in the car, the then 22-year old simply floored it. Schumacher practically invented the term ‘drive it like you stole it’. 2-3 laps into the test, everyone could see that Michael was pushing the car to its limit. It got to a stage where his race engineer even asked him to slow down and take it easy.
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“I was just understanding the car” – Michael Schumacher
To everyone’s shock, Michael simply stated, “I wasn’t pushing, I was just understanding the car.”
When quizzed about what he understood, Schumi didn’t even flinch and rattled off all the car’s characteristics. In fact, he even broke down his explanation to the smallest detail. Green confessed that they never heard of anyone go into so much detail after sitting in the car for the first time. Bear in mind, Schumacher gleaned all that information in just 5-6 laps and it was consistent with Andrea de Cesaris and Gachot’s inputs.
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Once they reached Spa Francorchamps, Schumacher’s talent was clear as crystal. In his first few laps, he was ‘flying’ and he caught de Cesaris by surprise. Unfortunately, Michael’s only weakness was the race start as he burned out the clutch at the start. It got worse when the car developed engine issues, so Michael retired and de Cesaris was left to fly the Jordan F1 flag.