Friday, September 7, 2012

Michael Schumacher The Speed Racer

Michael Schumacher born 3 January 1969) is a German Formula One racing driver for the Mercedes team. Schumacher is a seven-time World Champion and is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. He holds many of the formula's driver records, including most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions, points scored and most races won in a single season – 13 in 2004. In 2002 he became the only driver in Formula One history to finish in the top three in every race of a season and then also broke the record for most consecutive podium finishes. 

According to the official Formula One website he is "statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen". In 2009, a poll of 217 Formula One drivers conducted by the British magazine Autosport named Schumacher as "the second-greatest Formula One driver who ever lived", behind Ayrton Senna. As of the 2012 Formula One season Schumacher is the only driver left competing in Formula 1 to have raced against Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, whose record of total career wins he beat with his 52nd win at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. After beginning with karting, Schumacher won German drivers' championships in Formula König and Formula Three before joining Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship. 

After one Mercedes-funded race for the Jordan Formula One team Schumacher signed as a driver for the Benetton Formula One team in 1991. After winning consecutive championships with Benetton in 1994/5, Schumacher moved to Ferrari in 1996 and won another five consecutive drivers' titles with them from 2000 to 2004. Schumacher retired from Formula One driving in 2006 staying with Ferrari as an advisor. Schumacher agreed to return for Ferrari part-way through 2009, as cover for the badly injured Felipe Massa, but was prevented by a neck injury. He later signed a three-year contract to drive for the new Mercedes GP team starting in 2010. 

His career has not been without controversy, including being twice involved in collisions in the final race of a season that determined the outcome of the world championship, with Damon Hill in 1994 in Adelaide, and with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 in Jerez. Off the track Schumacher is an ambassador for UNESCO and a spokesman for driver safety. He has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts throughout his life and donated tens of millions of dollars to charity. Michael and his younger brother Ralf Schumacher are the only brothers to win races in Formula One, and they were the first brothers to finish 1st and 2nd in the same race, in Montreal in 2001, and there again (in switched order) in 2003. 

Honors 

Schumacher has been honoured many times during his career. In April 2002, for his contributions to sport and his contributions in raising awareness of child education, he was named as one of the UNESCO Champions for sport, joining the other eight which include Pelé, Sergey Bubka and Justine Henin. He won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award twice, in 2002 and 2004 for his performances in the 2001 and 2003 seasons respectively. He has also received nominations for the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 awards. No-one has been nominated more times than Schumacher in the award's seven-year history.
In honour of Schumacher's racing career and his efforts to improve safety and the sport, he was awarded an FIA Gold Medal for Motor Sport in 2006. In 2007, in recognition of his contribution to Formula One racing, the Nürburgring racing track renamed turns 8 and 9 (the Audi and Shell Kurves) as the Schumacher S, and a month later he presented A1 Team Germany with the A1 World Cup at the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2007 awards ceremony. 

He was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport for 2007, which he won both for sporting prowess and for his humanitarian record. In 2008 the Swiss Football Association appointed Schumacher as the Swiss ambassador for the 2008 European football championship. On 30 April 2010, Schumacher was honored with the Officier of Légion d'honneur title from French prime minister François Fillon. Schumacher was born in Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia, to Rolf Schumacher, a bricklayer, and his wife Elisabeth. When Schumacher was four, his father modified his pedal kart by adding a small motorcycle engine. When Schumacher crashed it into a lamp post in Kerpen, his parents took him to the karting track at Kerpen-Horrem, where he became the youngest member of the karting club. 

His father soon built him a kart from discarded parts and at the age of six Schumacher won his first club championship. To support his son's racing, Rolf Schumacher took on a second job renting and repairing karts, while his wife worked at the track's canteen. Nevertheless, when Schumacher needed a new engine costing 800 DM, his parents were unable to afford it; Michael was able to continue racing with support from local businessmen. 

Regulations in Germany require a driver to be at least 14 years old to obtain a kart license. To get around this, Schumacher obtained a license in Luxembourg at the age of 12. In 1983, he obtained his German license, a year after he won the German Junior Kart Championship. From 1984 on, Schumacher won many German and European kart championships. He joined Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert in 1985 and by 1987 he was the German and European kart champion, then he quit school and began working as a mechanic. In 1988 he made his first step into single-seat car racing by participating in the German Formula Ford and Formula König series, winning the latter.

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