“You can be sure that he is in the very best of hands and that we are doing everything humanly possible to help him,” his family said in a rare statement. “Please understand if we are following Michael’s wishes and keeping such a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy.”
Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher suffered a severe brain injury in 2013 during a skiing accident on the alpine slopes of Switzerland. He has since chosen to address fans via his family, primarily his wife Corinna, who provides the most frequent updates. On his 54th birthday, here we’re listing ways in which he changed Formula 1 and wish him the best.
Fitness is key
Schumacher was the first to realise that there is a direct correlation between physical fitness and on-track performance. At the time of his debut in 1991, Schumacher’s resting heart rate was 40 bpm (average is 60-100 bpm). He was the fitness driver on the grid in terms of body mass index.
“I want to be 200% physically prepared,” he said. “Even at the end of the race I want to have something in reserve; I don’t want to feel tired at any point because that will affect my ability to drive the car on the limit.”
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Schumi raised the bar
“Michael’s fitness was a pain in the ass,” says Austrian driver Gerhard Berger. “We were all pretty fit back then because we had to be. The cars were heavy; they had no power steering and they had manual gearboxes. You couldn’t do the job if you weren’t fit enough, but Michael proved that there was fit and fit; suddenly we had our teams asking why we weren’t as fit as him and we all had to train more as a result. You can imagine what I thought about that!”
Not just fitness, Schumacher left his mark on many other aspects of the sport. He understood that he needed to surround himself with the best people if he was to win races and, having found the magic ingredients at Benetton with tech bods Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, he kept hold of them for the duration of his career. They moved with him to Ferrari in 1996, and it was Brawn who lured him out of retirement in 2010.
Reward: Schumacher worked hard to become the best of his generation, then named his price. £60m a year? Because he was worth it! And others have followed
No.1 driver: Every point counts, so don’t allow your team-mate to take away world championship points. Toto Wolff knows it only too well. Ferrari could yet benefit in 2016
Rule-bending: Schumacher pushed the rules to the limit. His questionable calls at Jerez in ’97 and Monaco in ’06 led to the introduction of a driver steward at every race