With the theme of this year’s Festival of Speed being “Speed Kings -Motorsport’s record breakers and this year also being Michael Schumacher’s fiftieth birthday and also 25 years since his first world title, it seemed like the perfect year for the festival to pay tribute to the record-breaking formula one driver.
Sadly Schumacher himself hasn’t been seen in public since his tragic skiing accident in 2013 but lots of his family and friends came to the Sussex venue to see the incredible tribute. These included his wife Corinna, Son Mick, FIA president and former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt, former designer Ross Brawn and Luca di Montezemelo, former Ferrari President.
Several of his former rivals and team mates were also present including rival Damon Hill and former team mates Riccardo Patrese and Johnny Herbert.
The amazing line up of cars brought to Goodwood included every single one of the Ferrari’s that he won titles in and with just the 1996 Ferrari missing, there was also almost every Ferrari he drove. An Example of each of the Benettons he drove at the start of his career and also the Jordan 191 in which he made his debut at Spa in 1991. Plus the Mercedes in which he finished his F1 career.
As well as his cars from F1, the line up also featured cars from other branches of the sport that he raced in. There was the Van Diemen RF88 Formula Ford in which he competed in the 1988 formula Ford championship. Perhaps surprisingly he only took sixth that season! There was a Mercedes 190E DTM car in which he took part in four DTM races in 1991 before his F1 debut.
Finally there was the Sauber Mercedes C11 Group C car which he shared with Jochen Mass in the 1990 World Endurance championship winning the season finale.
Ross Brawn spoke about his opinion of the German’s abilities:
“Anyone at his level has to have natural talent. You can work as hard as you like but, if you haven’t got that natural talent as a gift, you won’t succeed. When you marry that inner gift with the approach, dedication and commitment and his character, he was a huge catalyst for every team he was part of. He just had everything – he raised the level of what a professional racing driver should be; he set new standards.”
Damon Hill, the German’s fiercest rival in his early career in the 90’s and whose collision with Schumacher in Adelaide 1994 handed him his first title also spoke about him:
“Lewis is catching up with the statistics, but there’s a long way to go before anyone can equal Michael’s record and there’s no question that the guy had the most outstanding ability as a racing driver. He had the qualities you need to be successful – he had this ruthlessness, talent, concentration and dedication.”
Schumacher’s seven world titles still hasn’t been equalled never mind beaten although Lewis Hamilton is fast catching him. Before Schumacher took the record with seven, the previous record holder was Juan Manuel Fangio with five title and that had stood for forty six years. But Schumacher also holds 20 other Formula one records, many of which may never be beaten.
In a year of celebrating records at Goodwood, Schumacher is one of the most successful record breakers in motorsport and it was a fitting tribute to the now legendary former F1 star.
The only sad side is the fact that due to his ongoing poor health following his accident, he could not be there to witness it in person or take part.
The sight of him driving his legendary cars up the hill would have been the only thing that could have made the event even more a spectacle. By Marc Waller