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Michael Schumacher's position among the all-time greats


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#1 PlatenGlass

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 13:56

I've always rated Schumacher among the all-time greats, along with e.g. Fangio, Clark, Senna, Alonso, Hamilton, (maybe now Verstappen) etc. (feel free to make your own list).

 

But I think there's always been this view among some people that he's not of that league, and perhaps even that his career was in some way a fraud. Obviously there's the accusations of foul play - e.g. the crashes with Hill and Villeneuve and the Monaco incident etc. - but even aside from that there is the impression that some people still think he simply wasn't ever that good.

 

Whether it's the alleged illegal cars or team-mates set up to fail there have always been suspicions about Michael Schumacher that I don't think have ever surrounded any other top-rated driver. But could there realistically have been some sort of conspiracy (perhaps masterminded by Ross Brown and friends) to make good driver look like an all-time great? Or even if not that sort of disparity, even making a WDC-level driver look like an uber great multi-WDC-winning driver.

 

It's not often explicity put like this, but I feel there's always been a subtext.

 

I'm not sure how this thread might go, but discuss (assuming it doesn't go down in a ball of fire and get locked within minutes).



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#2 pdac

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:00

I've always rated Schumacher among the all-time greats, along with e.g. Fangio, Clark, Senna, Alonso, Hamilton, (maybe now Verstappen) etc. (feel free to make your own list).

 

But I think there's always been this view among some people that he's not of that league, and perhaps even that his career was in some way a fraud. Obviously there's the accusations of foul play - e.g. the crashes with Hill and Villeneuve and the Monaco incident etc. - but even aside from that there is the impression that some people still think he simply wasn't ever that good.

 

Whether it's the alleged illegal cars or team-mates set up to fail there have always been suspicions about Michael Schumacher that I don't think have ever surrounded any other top-rated driver. But could there realistically have been some sort of conspiracy (perhaps masterminded by Ross Brown and friends) to make good driver look like an all-time great? Or even if not that sort of disparity, even making a WDC-level driver look like an uber great multi-WDC-winning driver.

 

It's not often explicity put like this, but I feel there's always been a subtext.

 

I'm not sure how this thread might go, but discuss (assuming it doesn't go down in a ball of fire and get locked within minutes).

 

Different eras. Different cars. Impossible to compare drivers.

 

(even Same era, different cars, it's very very difficult to make comparisons)


Edited by pdac, 22 July 2021 - 14:01.


#3 tifosiMac

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:03

I think with Michael he was a 'flawed genius' in that he wanted to win at all costs and it didn't matter to him, as long as he won.

 

Ability-wise he was the best of his generation and for me there is no doubt whatsoever he is one of the greats. I didn't like him as a driver growing up and seeing some of his antics, but fully respected he was an excellent and gifted racing driver. Off the track he is also a really nice person too.

 

Rest assured he's in 'the greatest' category without doubt :)



#4 Risil

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:04

I've watched some stuff from 1995-2000 lately and have concluded that while he wasn't perfect, he was very special. He also seem to lift the confidence of others he was working with.



#5 Neno

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:05

#1



#6 MLC

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:10

Different eras. Different cars. Impossible to compare drivers.

 

(even Same era, different cars, it's very very difficult to make comparisons)

 

Agreed. Comparisons are hard enough among drivers in the same era due to being in different teams. But some drivers do stand out among their generation, and Schumacher is definitely among those. For my money, the stand-out talents are...

 

Fangio

Moss

Clark

Stewart

Lauda

Prost

Senna

Schumacher

Hamilton

 

How you rate the above compared to one another is a personal preference, but I tend to think most people agree these drivers are most often considered "the greats".



#7 Jovanotti

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:10

I think apart from his occasional unsporting behaviour, there is a strong case that he's #1 as a whole driver package (speed, race management, team building, charisma, application, taking the whole sport to a new level of professionalisation).
Schumacher is still an epitome of F1 like no other driver for me.

Driving ability-wise he's among the other greats usually named in these discussions, impossible to separate from each other.

Edited by Jovanotti, 22 July 2021 - 14:13.


#8 Dimocash

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:11

Well I was a fan in the early 90's but lost interest because of all the faul play. Especially in 97.
But I have no doubt he is one of the all-time best.
He put his car in places it did'nt belong to.
But just like Lewis from 2014 until this year, he had no real competition in his dominant years which combined with the controversy dimishes his reputation a bt.
Also, he should've never made a comeback with Mercedes..

 



#9 Izzyeviel

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:13

He's an all-time great. He did things esp in the early days that defied belief. He was a phenomenal talent.



#10 smitten

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:13

I've always rated Schumacher among the all-time greats, along with e.g. Fangio, Clark, Senna, Alonso, Hamilton, (maybe now Verstappen) etc. (feel free to make your own list).

 

But I think there's always been this view among some people that he's not of that league, and perhaps even that his career was in some way a fraud. Obviously there's the accusations of foul play - e.g. the crashes with Hill and Villeneuve and the Monaco incident etc. - but even aside from that there is the impression that some people still think he simply wasn't ever that good.

 

My recollection of the time was that he just didn't have the passion of the guys who came immediately before.  A stereotypical Teutonic robotishness.  And I disliked his success at the time (not helped by being a Mclaren and a DC fan).

 

Time is a great healer and I now realise how wrong I was on so many levels.  Comparison is always subjective, but you couldn't have a conversation about the best ever without considering him very, very, strongly. IMO


Edited by smitten, 22 July 2021 - 14:14.


#11 mclarensmps

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:15

He's in the top 3 or top 5 at least, objectively speaking, maybe even #1. Begrudgingly.



#12 Paa

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:30

He raced 15 full seasons in his prime carrier and won at least 1 race during all of them.

 

He finished in the podium in all seasons bar '93 (4th place). And of course in '99 when he probably would have won the WDC without the injury and missing 6+1 races.

 

He was dominating the sport and was the measurement for all other drivers for this entire time.

He held basically all the records during his time. 

 

 

You can argue whether he is number #1, #2 or #3 but how can it be a question that he is among the greatest?

 

 

I'm not sure of the aim of this topic to be honest, seems like borderline trolling and I think it could be closed. 



#13 A.Fant

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:32

He's #1 to me and I despised him as a driver throughout his career.



#14 Spillage

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:33

Definitely in that top 4 bracket along with Fangio, Clark and Senna. Wouldn't like to choose between the four of them.

What I could never understand was the often-repeated claim that he was 'boring'. Hlfor.about a decade he was frequently the most exciting guy out there. Some of his quali laps from 1996 are breathtaking to watch.

Edited by Spillage, 22 July 2021 - 14:33.


#15 dissident

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:34

Schumacher was sometimes controversial due to his win at all costs mentality (not unlike Senna) and team orders, but you'd have to be high on something to doubt his skill. :lol:



#16 Burtros

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:35

Hated him but beyond the cheating stick I have little to beat him with. He was flawless on so many occasions. Beyond any doubt among the greats.

#17 PurpleSectors

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:35

Think as always with these discussions across sports you need to consider eras. Especially in F1 where the demands placed on the drivers mean that there is barely any resemblance between eras aisde from the overall concept.

With that being said, it would be an incredibly bold stretch to suggest Schumacher was not the absolute stand out driver in his specific era, be that in talent or numerical success.

I echo the posts above in saying a “Mount Rushmore” probably looks something like this with something of a gap in the 70s.

Fangio
Clark
Senna
Schumacher
Hamilton

Picking between them for me is just an exercise in personal preference, values and nostalgia.

#18 Dhillon

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:37

Pace wise many drivers over the years are comparable but as a "whole driver package" he is the one and only.



#19 Broekschaap

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:39

I consider all the 7 times WDC among the all-time greats. And only one of the none WDC (and that isn't max....yet)



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#20 NewMrMe

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:43

I don't think there are many people who wouldn't say he is one of the best of all time and one of the contenders for the best of all time. The arguments the OP raises are those that were commonly used to counter suggestions that Schumacher was the best because he was statistically the most successful. At a time this was a common argument.

 

In terms of all time greats all you can do is draw up a list of who was the best of their era and he is definitely on that list. Because they never raced in similar circumstances against each other at the same stage of their careers, you can never say who out of those contenders is the actual best.


Edited by NewMrMe, 22 July 2021 - 14:44.


#21 milestone 11

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:43

Agreed. Comparisons are hard enough among drivers in the same era due to being in different teams. But some drivers do stand out among their generation, and Schumacher is definitely among those. For my money, the stand-out talents are...

 

Fangio

Moss

Clark

Stewart

Lauda

Prost

Senna

Schumacher

Hamilton

 

How you rate the above compared to one another is a personal preference, but I tend to think most people agree these drivers are most often considered "the greats".

Excellent choices. I'd be inclined to add Ascari to that list, not all though would agree.



#22 Dan333SP

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:45

Top 3 all time, no doubt for me. People always say things about how the older generations of drivers were more "sporting", but we really have no idea how Jim Clark would have handled himself were he competing in an era when a crash didn't mean likely death or injury. Maybe he'd have turned in on Jack Brabham or Graham Hill or whatever, we'll never know. On pure driving talent, pace, and racecraft, MSC was at the very top. 

 

I'm also glad we got to see MSC 2.0 when he came back with Mercedes. Yea, the results weren't there, but he was in his 40s, 4 years away from the sport, in a relatively uncompetitive car, teamed with a future world champion who was well adapted to the Pirellis and the aero of the era. Despite all that it was brilliant seeing him dice with Lewis at Monza (now 14 titles between them) and take pole at Monaco. The fact that he got better and better between 2010 and 2012 to me shows his skill, even if the absolute peak was already in the past. 


Edited by Dan333SP, 22 July 2021 - 14:47.


#23 rf90

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 14:55

From the Senna era to now, yes, he must be considered the best, although I'm not a fan. Shame about the boring years (and a couple of questionable actions), but he had done enough before them to put him at the top I guess.

He and Senna (and of course drivers before them) risked more when putting in the performances that they did.



#24 jjcale

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:02

Did you actually mention MV in the all time greats list??

 

 

Michael is probably #2 behind SLH ....



#25 Diablobb81

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:06

Useless thread.:)

He is obviously number 1.

#26 shure

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:06

I've always rated Schumacher among the all-time greats, along with e.g. Fangio, Clark, Senna, Alonso, Hamilton, (maybe now Verstappen) etc. (feel free to make your own list).

 

But I think there's always been this view among some people that he's not of that league, and perhaps even that his career was in some way a fraud. Obviously there's the accusations of foul play - e.g. the crashes with Hill and Villeneuve and the Monaco incident etc. - but even aside from that there is the impression that some people still think he simply wasn't ever that good.

 

Whether it's the alleged illegal cars or team-mates set up to fail there have always been suspicions about Michael Schumacher that I don't think have ever surrounded any other top-rated driver. But could there realistically have been some sort of conspiracy (perhaps masterminded by Ross Brown and friends) to make good driver look like an all-time great? Or even if not that sort of disparity, even making a WDC-level driver look like an uber great multi-WDC-winning driver.

 

It's not often explicity put like this, but I feel there's always been a subtext.

 

I'm not sure how this thread might go, but discuss (assuming it doesn't go down in a ball of fire and get locked within minutes).

I don't think there's even a remote chance that people within the sport would collude to try and make a driver look far better than he is in the way you've described.  There was a lot of grumbling at the time that the lack of credible rivals were killing the sport and if anything they were praying for someone to come along and challenge him.  He was indisputably the top driver of his time.

 

Tbh I think the team mates criticism is largely driven by an inability to accept he was just that good.  I also wasn't a particular fan at the time but some of the things he did in a car were IMO unequalled.  I think it's very hard, if not impossible, to compare to today, since everything has changed so much and drivers now don't even have the opportunity to do what he did.  But I think his talent was most definitely real



#27 SenorSjon

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:13

Did you actually mention MV in the all time greats list??

 

 

Michael is probably #2 behind SLH ....

 

SLH is even doing some tricks off the MSC trade when under pressure it seems.

 

 

*runs*



#28 PlatenGlass

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:14

My recollection of the time was that he just didn't have the passion of the guys who came immediately before.  A stereotypical Teutonic robotishness.  And I disliked his success at the time (not helped by being a Mclaren and a DC fan).

I think some people were quite suspicious of his success early on as well, and that took some time to wear off.

 

I remember Gerhard Berger talking about staying on at Ferrari for 1996 (obviously he went to Benetton in the end), and I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was basically that he didn't see Schumacher as this otherworldly talent that he needed to be afraid of, and that he certainly wasn't as good as Senna in any case.

 

I remember also after the Brazilian GP in 1995 with the Renault fuel thing, Berger noted that Schumacher was involved again. So in the early years, I think Berger was suspicious of how good he actually was.

 

I remember James Allen saying (rightly or wrongly) that he was a journeyman driver in the junior categories, so maybe some people didn't beleive it when he started winning everything because he didn't seem to be on that trajectory.



#29 Yamamoto

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:16

I cannot think of someone who in my period of following the sport was so obviously and overtly above everyone else. How much of that was down to competition is of course a matter for debate. I am too young to have seen the likes of Hill, Villeneuve and Hakkinen in their pomp. Some knowledgeable posters in this forum speak highly enough of them for me to know he was definitely not competing against scrubs.

 

A top ten of all time (Edit: careless word choice. Read since 1950) for me, not in order, would include:

Hamilton

Alonso

Schumacher

Senna

Prost

Clark

Stewart

Fangio

Lauda

Jolyon Palmer, or perhaps Moss.

 

I'm with those who suggest that if you were to choose a driver and conspire to enhance their reputation to be one of the greats via subterfuge and publicity manipulation, you would likely choose an exceptional driver to begin with.


Edited by Yamamoto, 22 July 2021 - 19:37.


#30 PlatenGlass

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:17

 

 

I'm not sure of the aim of this topic to be honest, seems like borderline trolling and I think it could be closed. 

It's not trolling. I think nearly 15 years after his first retirement it might look crazy in hindsight. But during his career, people (on the internet maybe) certainly did question him quite a lot. And I think even now some people don't view him as a proper great.



#31 Coral

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:20

I reckon Schumacher is one of the all-time greats of F1. I was not a fan but I could see even in 1991 that he had "star quality.... just like I saw in Lewis and now see in Max.

 

He won the WDC in 1994 and 1995 in a car that was nowhere near being the best...and he would have won more easily in 1994 had it not been for some extremely dubious penalties.

 

As I said, I wasn't a fan of his but when he took the WDC in 2000 I was jumping up and down with joy for him and Ferrari! :drunk:  :blush:

 

His comeback with Mercedes was disappointing but the car was not great...and we know how good Rosberg turned out to be!

 

Yes...Schumacher definitely deserves his place among the F1 greats. :)



#32 Marklar

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:31

Top 10 for sure, exact position is individual preference. He is not in my top 5 though.

#33 TheFish

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:32

He's clearly one of the greatest ever, but he loses respect for me because of a few reasons. Only ever having a number 2 teammate, intentionally crashing into others and also having tyres designed purely for him.

 

A different man in and out of the car. Brawn telling the story of how angry Schumacher was in Jerez and that he couldn't believe Villeneuve had turned in on him sums it up.



#34 Anuity

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:32

He would very likely be considered among the greatest even if he retired circa 1998-1999 with only two titles.
He pretty much cemented his reputation as a very special and one of the best drivers around 96-98. The titles that came afterwards are just a statistical bonus really.

#35 jjcale

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:39

I've watched some stuff from 1995-2000 lately and have concluded that while he wasn't perfect, he was very special. He also seem to lift the confidence of others he was working with.

 

Its also interesting that having won lots of titles with LH and one with Button, four long serving engineering leaders at Brackley (Vowles, Shovlin and the sporting director and I cant remember the other one who appeared on the beyond the grid podcast) were unanimous that Michael was a) just about the best driver they ever worked with (LH being a very close second) and b) by far their favourite driver to work with because he was such a great motivator because of his exceptional interpersonal skills. 

 

Naturally I dont agree with them ... what can be more motivating that having SLH in the car knowing he will bring it home in the best possible position pretty much every single time .... but then, those deluded do fools have been working in F1 for about 15 to 20 years each so I cut them some slack. 


Edited by jjcale, 22 July 2021 - 15:41.


#36 TomNokoe

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:44

I only started watching F1 when LH turned up, but with a lot of retrospective viewing and reading, Michael will always be the greatest in my eyes. He totally redefined what it was to be an F1 driver. I agree with Jovanotti, "epitome" is a great way to phrase it.

And personally I don't think he will ever be de-throned, because we will never see another driver who will markedly stand out as much as he did.



#37 Goron3

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:46

Clearly a flawed genius, but I don't think we'll ever see someone as dominant over his peers as he was.

He had dominant cars in 02 and 04 but even if you remove those years from his statistics he finishes 1st or 2nd in every major stat. From 93-2000 he was absolutely extraordinary.

The 90s were dominated by Newey but we entered the 2000's with Michael considered one of the greatest, which says a lot.

#38 Astandahl

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 15:54

Hard to find someone as dominant as Michael in other sports... Maybe Jordan in the 90s...

 

I will leave this stat here, because i don't think a lot of people know it. Before the introduction of strategy in qualifying (2003), Schumacher had a quali record, between 1991 and 2002, of 165 - 13.

Yes, it was out qualified only 13 times out of 178 races in 11 years, and he was called a Sunday specialist...


Edited by Astandahl, 22 July 2021 - 15:55.


#39 Ragingjamaican

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:08

The seasons from 95-01 are enough to tell me this guy was definitely among the greats of all time if not the greatest. 

 

How he was competitive and dragging the Ferrari against superior cars was amazing to watch, and making off the ball strategies work in his favour that shouldn't have worked.

 

Has his flaws like every driver, but even in his last 2 years, he was matching Rosberg but luck was not on his side points wise. I think that alone was a big achievement.



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#40 Kilted Wanderer

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:13

Agreed. Comparisons are hard enough among drivers in the same era due to being in different teams. But some drivers do stand out among their generation, and Schumacher is definitely among those. For my money, the stand-out talents are...

 

Fangio

Moss

Clark

Stewart

Lauda

Prost

Senna

Schumacher

Hamilton

 

How you rate the above compared to one another is a personal preference, but I tend to think most people agree these drivers are most often considered "the greats".

Add Nuvolari & Ascari and yes, a pretty special bunch.



#41 ebc

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:24

No. 1 for me, I still think his 94 - 99 period before his leg break is the high point for Grand Prix driver performance, he was absolutely exceptional.  I think he maybe lost a little of the speed when he came back in 99, I can't be sure of that obviously but it was always a feeling I had. 

 

And although his 00-04 period was dominant you could argue he only really had the dominant car in 2002 and 2004, I think he could have won the title in 2000 and 2001 in the McLaren and 2003 in both the McLaren and the Williams.

 

He was a flawed character but I have never heard anyone who worked with him to offer up anything other than praise.



#42 Alan Lewis

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:31

...People always say things about how the older generations of drivers were more "sporting", but we really have no idea how Jim Clark would have handled himself were he competing in an era when a crash didn't mean likely death or injury. Maybe he'd have turned in on Jack Brabham or Graham Hill or whatever, we'll never know...


No offence, but I think we have more than enough evidence of his character and behaviour to state categorically that he would never have done any such thing, regardless of the era he found himself in.

#43 ConsiderAndGo

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:36

Beaten by Hamilton and Senna.

That’s it.

#44 absinthedude

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:38

There was foul play. There was having bespoke cars. There was having team-mates contractually obliged not to beat him. But he was still a great driver, candidate for GOAT. We saw enough of that in 1992/3 before any of the aforementioned issues popped up. They may tarnish his reputation but they don't take away from the fact that he was one of the greatest. His level of dominance was in part achieved because Benetton and then Ferrari were specifically built around his needs....but even without that he'd have won multiple WDCs. 

 

And I will say this for his character.....he made sure every employee at his teams from the principal to the cleaners was thanked and appreciated. He'd take his entire crew out to dinners. And while his sense of humour certainly wouldn't have amused me, he knew how to forget F1 and to party. He seems to have been much liked as a human being even by drivers with whom he clashed on track. 



#45 rf90

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:46

 

 

He seems to have been much liked as a human being even by drivers with whom he clashed on track. 

Very good point.



#46 Red5ive

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:46

He was a undoubtedly a great driver - who didnt need to gimp his team mates, force other drivers off the track to win WDC's or try to stop other drivers quali laps.

 

For me his greatness will therefore always be tainted.



#47 ARTGP

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 16:52

I don't see the point of comparisons across eras. Statistically or subjectively. Too many variables to compare anything objectively. Michael obviously stood out amongst his peers though. 


Edited by ARTGP, 22 July 2021 - 16:54.


#48 Boxerevo

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 17:07

Schumacher is a hard case for me, because he was the gift youngster that would come to face Senna.

 

And second, we know now that he would do absolutely anything to win.

 

One thing that people dismiss, Schumacher was preparing himself to beat Senna, the best ever for many, but Senna died and the result was Schumacher looked like a lonely monster in the grid.

 

But looking it as it is, he was no doubt the best driver of his generation and the greatest of his time.

 

The refuel reg allowed his driving style to be supreme, only a driver of the same caliber as Alonso could survive and beat it many years later and Schumacher was declining out of the absolutely peak prime.

 

Another thing that i will remember about him, he helped a lot of people. When that Tsunami came and wiped some countries in Asia, Schumacher gave HEAVY money from his pocket to help.

 

His fashion sense too... :lol:

 

So i see him as a really complex character too to judge and i wish him peace.


Edited by Boxerevo, 22 July 2021 - 17:30.


#49 Shambolic

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 17:11

It's impossible to really judge a driver against others from a totally different era.

 

But for me, it's how he did when not in the outright best car that proved he was something magical. He came in and was instantly challenging a world champion in the same car. He went on to take a championship despite being excluded from multiple races. He kept being a title contender when not having a clear car advantage.

 

And he was matching and even bettering the guy who went on to challenge and even beat Hamilton.

 

Does this make him the best of all time? I don't think that's a question that can be answered. Was he one of the all time greats, and probably the best of his era? IMO, absolutely.



#50 ExEd

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Posted 22 July 2021 - 17:15

There's a cluster of GOATS that really depends on what one is looking for but i now  rate him really on top right after Lewis in #2.

I dare to say was bigger than Ferrari the years he was there, build everything around him .

Perfect example of how the best wants to work for the best. 

The fact that the mighty Ferrari tried to replicate that pattern later on with no success with Kimi ,Alonso and Vettel says a lot about the achievements..

Its really devastating what happen to MSC.

I never really liked him, even loathed him at times but as time grew by I understood how wrong i was.

F1 and sports in general need legends like him.


Edited by ExEd, 22 July 2021 - 17:19.