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?

  1. oliver said on 19th April 2008, 4:38

    Keith, I was tempted to also take his 1995 win as his best considering he had the same engines as the Williams team, but the fact Benetton was running an illegal traction control system in 94 leaves me to conclude they probably also did the same in 95. Without doubt, M. Schumacher possess  inmense mental and physical capabilities that allowes him to stand way above his fellow competitors, however those allegations of cheating by the team, even with their refueling rig, somewhat tainted his years at Benetton. We should also remember that following the death of Senna, Micheal had no established opposition. Hill was not psychologically prepared to run for the championship in 1994. And in 1995, the Williams team was so in awe of Micheals ability that they failed to run their own program but instead, tried to anticipate the race strategy Benetton was adopting, Monaco 95 comes to mind with Hills 2 stop strategy as opposed to Micheal’s 1 stop.

    I am thus left with his 2000 championship for Ferrari as his best. Because it was his first win for them and also their first in over 20years, and he was also coming back from the disappointment of an almost certain win in 1999, but for his injury at silverstone.

  2. oliver said on 19th April 2008, 4:45


  3. I would go for the year 2000, his first title with Ferrari after that close fight with Hakkinen

  4. Harkirat said on 19th April 2008, 5:46

    2000, why? Because it showed the true character of the man. Even though a lot of people hate him for trying taking out Hill and Villeneuve, the 2000 WDC showed the world that here was a man, who, on track might do anything it takes to win, but off the track spent five years trying to bring a truck of a car to the level where it could start winning again. You could say money was a motivator, but I don’t think money can be a motivator for 5 years of struggle. I mean look at Alonso, he is in a similar position, If he had the same determination as Schumi, he would stick to Renault, and improve that car until he starts winning championships again.

    Just think, if Michael had joined McLaren or Williams in 1996, you could have been talking about a 10 time WDC.

  5. cyanide said on 19th April 2008, 6:18

    Schumacher’s ’98 season was heartbreaking, but the final race turned me into a huge Schumacher fan, and ’99 was disappointing because of his injury. So for me, it would be his 2000 victory. I had just started watching F1 a couple of seasons ago, and was a huge fan of Ferrari and Schumacher.

  6. for me he is a legend, every title was best..
    If formula1 is religion for me or some1 else,he is the god

  7. All so majestic….my hero,….oh how I miss him…..
    No I thought 2000, was very emotional…although not as emotional as the Monza race in 2005.
    Down – Not on pole
    Up – Alonso penalised
    Down – Behind Kimi until the pit stops
    Up – Took the lead
    Up – Alonso blew up
    Up – He won
    Up – Celebrations on the podium I was right opposite
    Down – Announced retirement

  8. Lady Snowcat said on 19th April 2008, 14:02

    You can’t use 2003 as that was the year that the changes Michelin had to make halfway through gifted the title to Michael…. and lost it for Kimi…..

    It has to be his first Ferrari year…2000…. the culmination of his whole approach to F1….

  9. Chas said on 19th April 2008, 17:42

    all his title wins were brilliant and i enjoyed them all.

  10. What about 2005 when rule changes were made specifically to disadvantage Ferrari and him? Does that make Alonso any less deserving a champion? No. He kept his cool. Kimi messed some up and some McLaren did. Similarly, in 2003, Michael did what he should have had. Score maximum points by the end of the season.

  11. SoLiD said on 19th April 2008, 19:40

    I think i would go for 2000,
    but I always found his best seasons, the ones he didn’t win it… (except 2005/6)… he drove the best he could i lesser cars, loved that

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th April 2008, 9:26

    Ron, what makes you think the 2005 rules changes were designed to disadvantage Ferrari?

  13. James Steventon said on 20th April 2008, 17:50

    I am going to go with the majority and say 2000. I honestly believe that Schumacher would probably have been crowned champion in 1999, if not for his crash at Silverstone.
    The pressure was really on him to perform that year, you could feel it. Hakkinen had won back to back championships, and it was obvious that Mika would be Schumacher’s major rival for the upcoming season.
    Also, Eddie Irvine had proven in 1999 that Ferrari had a car capable of challenging McLaren. The 2000 car would, without question, be as good if not better. Also, Schumacher had a new team mate in the Brazilian, Rubens Barrichello.
    The ingrediants were all there, the pressure, a strong and talented double world champion as a rival, a new team mate who was highly rated, and ofcourse, the juggernaut of Ferrari behind him.
    The race in Belgium was one of the year’s highlights. Schumacher hunting Hakkinen down, Hakkinen spinning and losing the lead, Schumacher’s infamous chop defending from Hakkinen, and then, ofcourse, Hakkinen’s outrageous move a lap later by passing Schumacher and Zonta at the same time.
    Real, real racing from two men who respected each other.
    Michael Schumacher’s response in the car, after crossing the finishing line at Suzuka and becoming champion, proved just how much of a battle he had been through.
    To me, that was his finest moment, his first championship with Ferrari. He had beaten his old rival from pre F1 days, and had done it fair and square. In 2001, the Ferrari had a bigger edge on its rivals, and Hakkinen chose to retire.
    The challengers since then were not Schumacher’s generation.
    Juan Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso.
    Yes, he wanted to beat them, but it was a different motivation.
    These were the young guns, the new breed, as Schumacher had once been to Senna, or Prost for that matter.
     No, 2000 without a doubt was his finest hour.

  14. Gabriel said on 20th April 2008, 19:13

    Really good resume’ James – I agree entirely.

  15. Arun said on 21st April 2008, 22:16

    I loved 2000 title(my 2nd year of F1 watching, no friends for company, no internet, no papers in India giving a good coverage, more than few words). I was literally running around the house when Mika ran out of fuel and Michael won (yes it is very sadistic, but Michael was the reason I started watching F1 in the first place). 
    Everyone loves to hate him, visible even in this comments section. But I like to put forward that many champions have been like that in the past. For example 1989’s Prost taking out Senna to clinch title, and Senna returning the help on 1991. Senna punching Eddie Irvine in Japan (when was that? 1993?). People have done ‘not so ethical’ things to win, but just Michael did some, combined with a world dominating F1 coverage and status, media, made him the most hated superstar. I would love if someone researches on this point about different drivers’ not so good moves in the past. Senna has even commented once that he’d do anything to clinch title, winning is the ingredient in his blood.

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