Which Schumacher title was the best?

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2008 testing, 470150

Michael Schumacher was back at the wheel of an F1 car this week. But sadly it seems we will not see him return to the track to take on Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari, and square up against new talent like Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica.

He’s probably done enough winning in F1 and that gave me an idea for a nice Friday afternoon debate – which of his seven world championships was the best? Here’s what I think.

Pro: Eight wins in what was not the best car in the field, won despite two disqualifications and two suspensions.
Con: Weakened opposition following death of Ayrton Senna, dubious move in final round on Damon Hill.

Pro: Second driver to win nine races in a year, outstanding victories at Spa and Nurburgring.
Con: Some iffy defensive driving at Spa.

Pro: First drivers’ championship for Ferrari since Jody Scheckter in 1979, beat Mika Hakkinen in closely-matched cars.
Con: What on earth were those first-lap crashes in the middle of the season about? Pulled a nasty move on Hakkinen at Spa and still lost the day.

Pro: Another nine wins.
Con: Strange off day at Interlagos, had quite a performance advantage in the F2001.

Pro: Utterly crushing display, on the podium at every round and only third once.
Con: Had the car to do it with. Farcical displays at Austria and Indianapolis left a sour taste.

Pro: Six wins to runner-up Kimi Raikkonen’s one in a close season. Under-rated gem of a win at Montreal, and Imola for that matter.
Con: Would he have won the title without the FIA’s highly contentious change to the tyre rules late in the season?

Pro: A staggering 13 wins made him untouchable.
Con: Mistakes crept in – brake-testing in the Monaco tunnel, bad strategy calls and spin at Monza, and just plain out of sorts at Shanghai and Interlagos.

My verdict
I’ve always held 1995 up as the ultimate Schumacher year. Hill didn’t really have any excuses and there were days when Schumacher was so good it was ridiculous – even at Estoril, when he only finished second, but passed Hill with a cruel and embarrassing ease.

Yes, he faced tough opposition later in his career, especially in 2000, but rarely in anything like the similarity of equipment he had in 1995. Schumacher’s greatest championship I reckon. What do you think?

Michael Schumacher career statistics
Michael Schumacher biography

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36 comments on Which Schumacher title was the best?

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  1. Gabriel said on 18th April 2008, 13:29

    I think 2000 because of the tough competition with hakkinen + the enormous pressure of ferrari winning on him (esp with how close he’d come before and not managed it)

  2. Michael K said on 18th April 2008, 13:32

    Never rated Damon Hill as any real opposition to anyone, let alone Schumacher, that Williams drove itself I reckon. To me it’s 2004, just because of the sheer domination, albeit in a superior car. But keep up that level of commitment after so many titles and wins deserves a lot of credit and transformed me from a Schumacher-hater to a Schumacher-respecter.

  3. verasaki said on 18th April 2008, 14:00

    1994.  i think he’d have won it that year anyway but,honestly we all needed something to cheer about that year and his boyish (he was back then, remember?) exuberance made the end of the season better than just the sigh of relief it could have been. 

  4. It´s hard to say, but anyone of the Michael´s titles had the same kind of Senna´s brightness (88) or even Fernando´s braveness… (2006)
    There’s always something that can make you think about it: the superiority of his cars, his unfair moves , his bureaucracy wins, his team mate helps or the classic IF SENNA HASN´T DIED?In Michaels´s case, we can rewrite the question and ask: which Michael title´s was the less worst?I liked 2003. In Japan he shows how emotional fragile he could be under intense pressure and how Rubens was important in his Ferrari´s times.

  5. I think 1994 it´s the best year nine wins, disqualifications, etc. and emotions until the last race.

  6. DanielPT said on 18th April 2008, 14:42

    2000. The first championship for Ferrari in 21 years. Since i started seeing F1 (and remembering) that my father always talked about Ferrari, Gilles Villeneuve, Lauda, those beautiful red cars he saw on track and in that glorious Ferrari past. Back then i just looked at him and thougth, "how can someone still loves such a utterly crap team?" (I’ve never saw them do anything till 1997, except, of course, 1990). So, and with Schumacher being close several times before to win the WDC for them, 2000 was such a tension year for many silent Ferrari fans (at least in my town in Portugal) that ended, finally, with such a blast of joy, that even i enjoyed that championship victory, despite not liking Ferrari that much and hating Schumacher because of those moves on Hill and JV.

  7. Dan M said on 18th April 2008, 15:02

    I think that his ruthless driving was his greatest strength. He was out to win, not collect a paycheck like JPM.  That being said, I think 94 was the greatest.Almost every other Championship he had a car that was at least close to the fastest.  I don’t think you can hold Senna’s death against him.

    Also, wasn’t 95 the year that Benetton was found to have the illegal TC? (not that other teams didn’t have something similar, but I’m sure Brawn’s was the best)

  8. Brar Soler said on 18th April 2008, 15:13

    For me 2000 was the best. It was the turning point for Ferrari. Was the biggest Schumacher´s challenge. The others tiltles sere easier. 

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th April 2008, 15:19

    Dan – no it was the ’94 car that was widely believed to be running with a traction control system hidden under the infamous ‘option 13′ on its menu. More on that here.

  10. Gabriel said on 18th April 2008, 15:59

    Just wanted to add another thing: I think one of Schumacher’s greatest achievements was in getting Ferrari around him (and great group of people) and developing a poor car into a v competitive one, one that eventually became so good, it was so much superior to everyone else’s (most of the time). So in essence he created the foundations for many of the "uncompetitive and boring" titles he won.

  11. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 18th April 2008, 16:54

    i think either 95 or 2000 as keith said it was at times embarrassing how superior he was to the oppostion especially hill when williams had the faster car. 2000 was special obviously because it was frraris 1st wdc since 79 but i think one of his best achievements was how he moulded ferrari into the best team on the grid from a distinctly average and what seemed chaotic 1. he cams eos close in 9 and 98 when he didn have the best car and at some times not even 2nd fastest. Wins like spain 96, monaco and spa 97, hungary 98 were some of his best you could tell he was wringing everything out of his car to try and make up for the speed deficit.

  12. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 18th April 2008, 17:00

    also wanted to add its easy to say in the seasons like 02 04 he had the best car but so did barrichello and he didnt win every race in them seasons that michael didn did he. i always thought back in 97,98,99 that if schumacher had the best car he would walk it he was making tittles go down to the last race in inferior cars adn i was proved right.

  13. Journeyer said on 18th April 2008, 17:04

    Keith, you should have made it a poll!

    Anyway, I think the best one was the 2000 title – it just about noses ahead of 1995.  It wasn’t the best car in the field – at the very least, it was on level terms with McLaren.  The pressure was on, the competition was tough (with Mika and David), and although he struggled mid-season, he came from behind in the end.  Also, let’s not forget that it was he who drove Ferrari from mediocrity back to excellence – and the titles.

  14. francois said on 18th April 2008, 17:12

    If Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher had swapped cars in 94/95 I think we would have been in for a complete whitewash like happened in 2004.I thought the 94 Williams car had handling problems without active suspension and the Benetton was a bit better.

    The 2000 title was the most meaningful title really as it as others have said marked a turning point and from there Ferrari dominated.He had to really fight hard in 2003 thanks to the points system and Michelin having better tyres  , and that’s probably my favourite title win as for a long time it was looking as if it would be a three way fight between him , Raikonnen and Montoya(?).

  15. M Smith said on 18th April 2008, 20:31

    1995 was his best title for me.

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