Mick Schumacher will make his Formula 1 debut on March 28th in Bahrain. Thirty years before that Michael, as he recalled Eddie Jordan, decided to give Mick’s father a chance after being openly deceived by him in the build-up to the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix.
Asked about it in the BBC, the founder and former owner of the Jordan Grand Prix laughed and said:
“He deceived me, and blatantly so. Before the race, I asked if he had ever been to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.”
“And when you ask a driver something like that, you don’t mean if he has been there as a tourist. You ask him if he has been a racing driver.
“He, as a driver, didn’t know the track. He went to Spa with his father when he was still driving a kart, but he had never driven on this track.
“This makes his achievements of that weekend even more significant. “
Michael Schumacher was seventh fastest in the Belgian Grand Prix qualifing. But the driver, who was 22 years old at the time, wasn’t able to finish the race because of a clutch problem.
However, in a controversial move, Flavio briatore signed him a few days later as starting driver for Benetton replacing Roberto Moreno, taking fifth place in the next race.
“At that point I had to send Roberto Moreno, my second driver, back to make room for Michael. Ayrton Senna was another problem. He was a friend of Moreno and wanted to end the involvement with Schumacher.
Because Ayrton understood from the beginning that Schumacher was very special”, remembers Briatore in an interview.
The following season, Michael Schumacher took his first victory in Formula 1, namely in the Belgian Grand Prix. He also finished three times second and four times third. It was something that made Ayrton Senna somewhat hostile, as Flavio Briatore admitted in the interview:
“Once Michael was about to fight Senna, Ayrton hit him during some tests in Germany.
“He told him that he was the world champion and that Michael should have more respect. Michael didn’t care. He wanted to gain respect and that’s why he drove so aggressively.
“That’s the only way to become a champion”.
In 1994 and 1995 Michael Schumacher claimed the world championship before joining Ferrari, where he won five more world championships.
Lewis Hamilton became seven times champion this season, although Flavio Briatore has been a detractor to his achievements by comparing him to the German:
“Michael has fought with the greats, like Senna. I have to admit that when Michael arrived, he was tough: we were talking about Nigel Mansell or Senna. Now the competition is less. You have two or three drivers …
“Hamilton, again, nobody puts pressure on him: he can simply zoom away. When someone approached Schumacher, they made a mistake.
“With Fernando Alonso, the same thing happened. Everybody makes mistakes. If Lewis drives like a taxi driver and wins everything, it’s because he’s a great driver, he’s fantastic.
“Hamilton is one of the two stars of Formula One, the other is Verstappen”.
But Briatore couldn’t commit to either driver when he was asked if Michael Schumacher was better than Fernando Alonso:
“Asking who is the best, if Schumacher or Alonso, is like asking if Messi or Ronaldo is better.
“I don’t know. Fernando is less emotional than Michael. Michael has always held tight and encouraged the team to the maximum; Fernando, on the other hand, is like a Rottweiler, he will never give up”.
“I remember the 2005 Imola race, Fernando won and Michael finished second. In that race, these two champions had very similar performances.
“Michael spent 15 to 20 laps stuck to Fernando’s gearbox and didn’t make any mistakes, neither did Fernando. It was a great race. For me both drivers are very similar”, he added.
Just as Michael Schumacher lied to get a place in Formula One, he did the same to maintain his domination against Fernando Alonso. This is how Felipe Massa recently revealed it, hinting at a dirty move of the latter against the Asturian during the Monaco GP.
“We had a meeting with the team, we were discussing about the qualifications… We had two sets of tyres for this day.
“Yeah Michael said: ‘Yes, but if we are faster right now and get through the second set …’ ” and Ross commented: “Maybe we can create a yellow flag”, admits the Brazilian.
“Many drivers doubt it was an accident.”