SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS: Twenty years after starting his spell as a Formula One driver, Michael Schumacher has amassed more triumphs and titles than any other driver in the sport’s history in a racing career which he states he holds few regrets.
On the twentieth anniversary of his debut at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, the veteran admitted he was awestruck when he arrived to compete for the fledgling Jordan team against the great drivers of the era.
“I was doubtful whether my quality was good enough to compete,” said Schumacher. “You see them as untouchables, especially in those moments where you had Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and so on. I didn’t really think I could match them.”
After 91 wins, seven world titles, 154 podium finishes and 68 pole positions, Schumacher showed he was no longer daunted by any occasion as he faced a news conference on the eve of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
“There is no reason why it is impossible to beat those guys in the past and neither these guys that are here right now,” said the German driver. “That’s the good thing about Formula One, it’s always a challenge.”
Fernando Alonso also stated at the same news conference that he was in awe of his predecessor’s ability to race at the top for so long, admitting that he himself would not be able to do the same.
“Twenty years is a long time,” said Alonso. “I don’t think I could do that.”
Alonso added that he believed Schumacher’s record of seven world championships and 91 wins may never be equalled, and said he understood why he wanted to return after he had retired.
Schumacher sets pace in first practice
Schumacher topped the times for Mercedes during Friday morning’s rain-soaked opening practice for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The German clocked a lap of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in one minute and 54.333 seconds on a dry track at the beginning of the session, just 0.5 seconds quicker than his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The circuit was then soaked out due to heavy rains, forcing all following drivers to drive cautiously.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was third fastest with a time of two minutes and 2.740 seconds ahead of leader German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
Button’s teammate Lewis Hamilton was fifth quickest ahead of German Adrian Sutil of Force India.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.