Belgian Grand Prix,1991: It was the season of 1991, 10 races had taken place so far and it was a close call between Senna and Mansell for the World Championship. On the backdrop of this close Championship fight, before the start of the 11th race in Belgium, Jordan driver, Bertrand Gachot was in jail and hence out of contention to race in the next race at Spa, Belgium. The Jordan team decided to test a 22-year-old German, known for his good performance in Formula 3. And thus, we explore Michael Schumacher’s beginning and how the legend was born.
He was a mere wildcard entry but those few races were enough for him to make a statement. In fact, he made things clear in his first race itself. Schumacher had never driven on the track and his only ride on the circuit was a mere lap or so prior to the Friday session using a cycle. Drivers with this little experience of Spa generally aim to get the car back together in one single piece and not do anything foolish.
This was what was expected from Schumacher too. What he did was something entirely unexpected. He ended up fourth on the grid, finishing seventh and shocking the entire paddock.
Word of this rookie German and his talent had started spreading to the entire world. Despite his strong qualifying position, his race did not go particularly well. He didn’t even manage to finish one lap owing to a clutch issue with his car.
However, owing to his outstanding Qualifying performance, he was the talk of the town. He secured a seat for Benetton for the remaining season and went on to secure four points in the next six races for the team.
The Benetton-Schumacher partnership was indeed very successful, with Schumacher going on to win his first race in 1992 for Benetton at his debut track – Spa. He also went on to win two World Championships for his sponsors during 1994 and 1995.
This was the start of a new era for F1. This was the era of Michael Schumacher. Nobody knew the 22-year-old German would end up being called as a legend, shattering records, dominating season after season, winning a massive 91 races and 7 world championships.