Considering that this is now the 176th post on this blog, I am amazed that I have managed to keep away from my favourite sport. Not one post in almost six months on Formula 1.
The reason’s quite simple. A first post would simply have to be on Michael Schumacher. That it would then unleash a long, possibly unending series was immaterial. But I was (and am) sure I would never be able to do justice to a guy whose performance was exemplified by this :
“Race driving is not a test of courage or a feat of strength. You have to be able to tell whether the car can take a particular corner at a particular speed or not. It is up to you to know how you take this corner but if you need courage to do it, you have a problem. It’s about knowing where the limits lie”
7 World Championships. 91 wins of 249 races. 154 finishes on podium (61.85% of the time). 190 finishes in the points (76.3%). 5.5 points on an average each time he started a race – think about it.
Then think about this.
Schumacher is a special ambassador to UNESCO and has donated 1.5 million Euros to them. Additionally, he paid for the construction of a school for poor children and for area improvements in Senegal. He supports a hospital for child victims of war in Sarajevo, which specialises in caring for amputees. In Peru he funded the “Palace for the Poor”, a centre for helping homeless street children obtain an education, clothing, food, medical attention, and shelter. He stated his interest in these various efforts was piqued both by his love for children and the fact that these causes had received little attention. While an exact figure for the amount of money he has donated throughout his life is unknown, it is known that in his last four years as a driver, he donated at least $50 million. And yes, he did donate $ 10 million to the Tsunami Relief Fund. More than any other sports person, most sports leagues, many worldwide corporations and even some countries.
Perhaps the biggest quality associated with Schumi was the ruthless efficiency on the circuit. The must-win. The anything-goes and nothing-is-wrong approach. What should be remembered is the wins. The sheer consistency of performance. The crescendo that perfection achieved each time he climbed into a F1 machine. And the stark contrast when he stepped out. No off circuit controversies. Just a quiet, dignified champion.
Hidden in the Schumacher story are a number of questions about modern sport. But none of the answers deny him excellence.