In the wake of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident that has left the German fighting for his life in a Grenoble Hospital, we take a look at the driver who thrilled racing fans for almost two decades.
Schumacher, 44, is the most successful driver in F1 history and for many the best ever.
He drove for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes in a career spanning 19 years, during which time he wracked up many titles and records.
He transformed himself from the driver many in the paddock disliked to one of the fans’ favourites – not to mention one of the highest paid F1 drivers and sportsmen on the planet.
His record of achievements is impressive: seven world championships, two with Benetton in the 1990s, and five straight crowns with Ferrari from 2000. He has a record total of 91 wins, 155 podium placings, 68 pole positions, 77 fastest laps and 22 hat-tricks (pole, fastest lap and win combined).
He spent 11 prolific years behind the wheel of a ‘prancing horse’ before a tearful first retirement in 2006.
He made a comeback three years later driving for Ferrari’s rivals Mercedes.
Schummi’s return was far from a success and at the end of 2012 he retired for good, but only from Formula One, he sought out the adrenaline buzz wherever he could, including sky diving, karting and skiing – among other sports.
Schumacher is definitely no stranger to accidents.
He was involved in several hair-raising incidents in motorsport’s elite class but in the 1999 race at Silverstone he crashed out on the first lap, breaking his right leg in two places and was sidelined for six races.
He also crashed multiple times on a motorbike.
Schumacher took up motorcycle racing soon after he first retired from Ferrari in 2006, injuring his head and neck in a 2009 crash.
As a sportsman Michael Schumacher polarized opinion.
After his skiing accident on Sunday there has been a lot of support for the German especially from his former F1 colleagues.
Many people who worked with or raced against him flooded the social networks with messages of support and well-wishes.
His former teammate Felipe Massa was one of the first to react.
He wrote on Instagram: “I am praying for you my brother!! I hope you have a quick recovery!! God bless you Michael.”
“Michael is in everyone’s thoughts at Ferrari” wrote the Italian glamour team on its official twitter account.
Mercedes, his last team in F1, tweeted: “Michael has amazing fighting spirit. We are sending him all our strength for this most important battle.”
Even four-time world champion – and for many people his successor – Sebastian Vettel wrote: “This is a very sad night. Michael, this is the most important GP of your life and you are going to win.”
On Schumi’s Facebook fan pages thousands voiced their support for the former F1 driver under hash tags such as “PrayForSchumi” or “GetWellSoonSchumi”.
Fellow German sports stars Lukas Podolski and Sabine Lisicki were among many to tweet their well-wishes while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “exceptionally worried” after Schumacher’s accident.
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