Schumacher joining Ferrari

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    So, the champion of champions competition got me wondering – why exactly did Schumacher join Ferrari? I was 8 or 9 at the time and the internet back then was almost non existent and thus I never questioned the move.

    Was it simply because he wanted to join Ferrari? i.e the drivers dream?

    I find that hard to believe as Ferrari were not the strong team they had been previously, hadn’t won a championship since the late 70’s and Schumacher is German – and I had thought it was always considered an Italian drivers dream rather than racing drivers in general (although given Schumacher’s success, this might be changed now).

    Was it because he wanted to build a team up from scratch?

    Again I find this hard to believe as he didn’t exactly build the team up from scratch, instead he brought over the talented people from Benetton and essentially reformed Benetton inside Ferrari. Of course, there were existing members of Ferrari that would become instrumental to their success like Jean Todt but it doesn’t answer – why would Schumacher want to build up a team when he is already in a winning one?

    Was it because of the reported $30 million pay cheque?

    I think this seems the most likely. But it also stamps on the idea that Schumacher can be considered great for building up a team if his motivation was money rather than greatness. On the surface it seems similar to Villeneuve moving to BAR simply for the money.

    Now I don’t want this debate to go into whether he was the greatest or not because Schumacher can be considered great on different levels. I’m just interested in whether his move to Ferrari was really as inspired or great as many believe it to be. Are there reasons that I have missed? Are my answers to the questions wrong? I’d be interested to know your thoughts.



    There were a few factors at play, chief of which was always money in my mind. The figure I always heard was US$50 million over 2 years.

    But if you want to be fair to MSC I suppose he would argue that he wanted a new challenge after two years of domination at Benetton. I’d also heard that he moved on from Benetton because of the teams’ actions during the 1994 season. I suppose the fact that Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn followed suit also played a role.



    Well Senna explicitly said he wanted to go to Williams because they had the best car, so I don’t think selfishness is anything new.



    I can see one good reason for moving to Ferrari, both now and then. Try and recall how many teams that have the same name as they did in 1994 or even 1999. I checked, the official team names all changed except Ferrari (they had to leave out the Marlboro).

    Ferrari is a place that is secure. You know they will stay in Formula 1, and you know that there will not be somebody else taking it over, making a different strategy or, taking the focus away from racing.



    @icthyes I’m not saying that its a bad thing, I was just wondering if there were reasons that I missed – or if my assumptions were wrong! As from what I understand, to say that Schumacher deliberately moved to Ferrari to build up the team is in fact wrong – that he did that was incidental to his move (which in itself shows greatness, but its just that the move itself wasn’t motivated by this desire).

    @soerenkaae That is a good observation, I hadn’t realised that. Although, I would have thought that the most secure team of the 90’s was probably Williams at that time. Of course that changed in 1998 – had Renault announced their withdrawal as engine supplier by 1995/6? Or had the new rules been announced by that time? (i.e. grooved tyres etc)



    It’s okay sw6569, I was just throwing that out there.

    Well also at the time, only Williams, McLaren and Ferrari (other than Benetton) had recent championship-winning pedigree. Williams would baulk at taking him, apparently he did have talks with McLaren but it stalled over Ron Dennis’ issue about personal sponsors (Hamilton only gets away with this because he doesn’t have any Reebok sponsorship when he’s at the circuit, unlike Schumacher’s Dekra caps), so Ferrari was the only real choice. Plus because of the name and challenge (Alonso has done something similar in a more circuitous fashion!)



    I think part of Schumachers reason for moving to Ferrari is because they are viewed by many as THE team to drive for. However with Schumacher being German, maybe his heart lies with Mercedes, and also driving for their sports car team. However Mercedes didn’t really have a strong team to drive for, the Sauber team weren’t the greatest with their engine, and McLaren struggled at first with the engine also.

    I think you can see that Schumacher likes to obviously be the number one in the team. He possibly saw that Ferrari were in need of a leader and Schumacher was the man for the job. You can tell that he likes to be in control and for the team to follow his every move and to agree with him. You can see this in his relationship with Bridgestone and how they made tyres to suit his driving style.

    Money is obviously going to be a factor in any move. He wasn’t going to move to Ferrari without a nice pay cheque, and Ferrari are probably the best suited for providing this.

    I’d like to wonder what would have happened if Schumacher hadn’t moved to Ferrari, they had pretty dire cars in the mid 90s, and Schumacher made them look a whole lot better, as did the team of people who moved from Benneton with him. Ferrari could have still been in a rut, imagine that!

    As for building a team from the ground up, I think a lot of drivers like that challenge. We’ve seen this with Alonso at Renault, ok not in the same way as Schumacher, but he definitely helped make the team what they were in 2005 and 2006. We’ve also seen Hakkinen do this with McLaren, they weren’t the great team they were in the late 80’s and early 90s when he joined. He helped to build the team to their double success in 98 and 99.

    I think a lot of drivers try and do this. Just look at Kovalainen and Trulli, they moved to Lotus, yes they didn’t really have much of a choice, one replaced by Button, and the other his team dropped out. But they both decided to stay in F1 to try and build a team from the bottom up, and I hope they succeed.

    Good idea for a post sw6569!



    Ferrari hadn’t won a world championship in 20 odd years, and Jean Todt was the man tasked with bringing success back to Maranello. The obvious first move would be to hire the only world champion on the grid. My understanding is that it was Scumacher who suggested bringing Brawn and Byrne along as he already had a close working relationship with them (much as drivers who change teams often take their race engineers with them).

    Hakkinen didn’t rebuild McLaren at all, they were stuck with dodgy engines for a few seasons (Like the Peugot)until Mercedes decided to enter the sport properly which also coincided with Adrian Newey’s first McLaren.



    @asanator – so you’re saying Hakkinen’s two championship winning years didn’t boost the team? Odd



    No, I’m saying that Hakkinen didn’t ‘re-build’ the team as you are suggesting, it was more Adrian Newey’s first McLaren and Mercedes entering F1 full time which gave McLaren their ONLY Constructors title in the last 20 years and enabled Mika to compete for the drivers title.

    Do you not recall your original post? Odd!



    Well you clearly didn’t read it well enough. I said he HELPED to build the team, which he quite clearly did. They wouldn’t have used team orders if they didn’t think he was the one to take the team to victory.

    Plus I also stated earlier that they didn’t have the same influence as Schumacher had.



    I remember a Jim Bamber cartoon in Autosport from the tail-end of the 1995 season showing Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi riding off into the distance on a Benetton-sponsored stallion. Whilst Michael Schumacher scratched his head as he held the reigns of a dopey-looking red pantomime horse.

    Alesi was yelling “You’re talking to the wrong end, Michael!”

    We all know how that story turned out.



    Actually I did read it:

    ‘As for building a team from the ground up…….. We’ve also seen Hakkinen do this with McLaren…..’



    “He helped to build the team to their double success in 98 and 99.”

    What a stupid argument this is. I don’t get why you don’t accept that Hakkinen helped to build the team, but I’ll live with that.



    Well, for what its worth, I think Hakkinen did help build the team – but certainly, he was not as major a player as Newey was and he was more carried with the development than leading it.

    But, it does raise an interesting point – can the driver ever be solely responsible for the development of a team? I’d say that Schumacher was a figurehead of Ferrari rather than ever being an outright team builder.

    Further – why do you think it took so long for the combination to really work and provide the best car in the early 2000’s? That appears to show that it wasn’t solely Schumachers arrival that influenced the winning abilities of the Ferrari.

    The more I think about it, the more I think you can’t really say that a driver can build up a team at all!

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