World Michael Schumacher: Sports car races were so important for his career

19:55  17 january  2021
19:55  17 january  2021 Source:   motorsport-total.com

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Michael Schumacher fuhr als Mercedes-Junior für das Team von Peter Sauber © Motorsport Images Michael Schumacher drove as a Mercedes Junior for Peter Sauber's team

As a seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher made history in Formula 1. But the way the German made it to the premier class was rather unusual back then. While there is a marked path to Formula 1 these days with Formula 2 (formerly GP2) and Formula 3, Schumacher's path was completely different.

For example, before his Formula 1 debut in 1991, "Schumi" drove in the DTM and the sports car world championship. "I pushed it and wanted him to do it. Some journalists wrote me down to the ground for this," remembers Schumacher's long-time manager Willi Weber in an interview with 'Motorsport-Total.com'.

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Michael Schumacher, Peter Sauber © Motorsport Images Michael Schumacher, Peter Sauber

"I would ruin Schumacher's career, it's an old man, I should never have done that," said Weber. Instead, Schumacher should have gone into the then Formula 3000, which according to Weber's statement, however, "stood on shaky legs, where you never knew which team you should actually go to."

Schumacher should above all learn

"Firstly, it was too expensive and secondly too unsafe. In this Group C team, with [Peter] Sauber, I still believe that it was the right decision," Weber emphasizes . Schumacher was a Mercedes junior in 1990 and drove sports car races for the later Formula 1 team boss Peter Sauber in his racing team.

Weber explains his controversial decision at the time: "He learned to deal with more than four mechanics. He had to learn how to qualify, to deal with a team that is in the public eye. He had to learn what punctuality is, what is this and what is it. And that's why I say: This stopover was very good. "

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"He learned a lot there for the future. You noticed that afterwards," Weber is sure. Former Formula 1 driver Stefan Johansson, who also competed in sports car races before and after his time in the premier class, and in 1997 celebrated overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, sees it similarly.

sports car race the best training?

"When you drive a prototype over such a long distance, you have to constantly improvise. There is traffic, [different] weather conditions, dirt on the track, this and that. You always have to improvise and drive with feeling," he explains today 64-year-old in the podcast 'Beyond The Grid' . In

Johansson's opinion, it is "even more difficult" to be fast in such conditions "than simply driving a car at the limit where everything is available," says the Swede and reveals: "Every driver I work with , I encourage people to do more sports car races because there is no better training. "

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"You need a special technique to get the speed out [under these conditions]. To be honest, I think that Schumacher [in Formula 1] had an advantage because of that - because he drove sports car races for a few years," said Johansson. Incidentally, "Schumi" was not overly successful at the time.

No great successes, but ...

"It wasn't his thing," Weber remembers and explains: "This is not a formula car. You can't throw that into the corner like a Formula Ford or a Formula 3 or later one Formula 1, which he drove with the precision of a Swiss watch. The car didn't fit into the whole. "

According to Weber, it wasn't even the goal to make Schumacher a sports car champion. "It wasn't the car that was my intention, but dealing with the big team," he emphasizes and adds: "Dealing with the public, with the journalists. Everything that pounded on him was a learning phase."

"Not learning to drive and mastering this car - that wasn't the whole point of this action. [...] That's why I wasn't disappointed that he wasn't always the fastest. He was the most constant, but not the fastest . But I didn't expect that, "said Weber.

Nevertheless, Schumacher learned a lot of things for his further career during this time - on and off the racetrack.

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