Michael Schumacher is one of the most successful racing drivers to have taken to the track.
With a record breaking seven championship wins to his name, five of them consectively, he has roared to victory more times than any other driver.
But now Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has equalled some of Schumacher’s incredible Formula 1 success by claiming his 91st Grand Prix – and smashing a record held for 19 years.
Schumacher had held the record since 2 September 2001 but yesterday, at the Eifel Grand Prix, Hamilton raced to victory 4.470 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton said: “I don’t know what to say. I remember seeing Michael’s dominance and I don’t think anyone, especially me, could imagine I would get anywhere near him in terms of his record.”
Schumacher spent almost all of his Formula 1 career driving for Ferrari after he fell in love with the sport when he started karting as a child.
The 51-year-old devastated motor sport fans in 2006 when he announced his retirement but just four years later he was back on the track.
He remained at the top of his game for another two years before announcing his final retirement – and was poignantly replaced at Mercedes by Hamilton.
In an emotional speech announcing his decision, Schumacher said while he still felt “able to compete with the best drivers” he wasn’t sure if he had the “motivation and energy which is necessary to go on”.
Just over a year later, on December 29, 2013, while skiing with his then 14-year-old son, Mick, Schumacher suffered a devastating accident.
The father and son was skiing down the Combe de Saulire above Meribel in the French Alps.
It was while they were crossing an unsecured off-piste area that Schumacher, an accomplished skiier, fell and hit his head on a rock.
His life was saved by his ski helmet and the racing legend was airlifted to hospital and underwent two operations to save him.
Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma and his doctors said his condition was stable.
By June the following year, it was reported that Schumacher had regained consciousness and he was transferred to a hospital for rehab.
He was allowed home in September of that year, where his rehab has continued, but where updates about his condition have been few and far between.
His devoted wife, Corinna, and management team have always insisted his health is a private issue and have remained tight-lipped about what, if any, progress the racing legend has made since his injury.
In a rare update just before the sixth anniversary of Schumacher’s devastating accident, Corrina said “big things start with small steps”.
Then, in January this year, a neurosurgeon has claimed Schumacher’s condition has “deteriorated” since the accident just over six years ago.
Nicola Acciari said: “We must imagine a person very different from the one we remember on the track, with a very altered and deteriorated organic, muscular and skeletal structure,
“All as a result of the brain trauma he suffered.”
There finally seemed to be a glimmer of hope when reports earlier this month claimed the F1 ace was to undergo stem cell surgery within days.
It gave hope to Schumacher’s fans around the world but just days later the claims seemed to be false.
While his family maintained their silence they are thought to have not even considered the procedure during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, six years after his accident, the racing great is believed to have been left with devastating health complications because he has been confined to his bed for so long.
He is reported to now be suffering from muscle atrophy, which has caused his muscles to waste away and osteoporosis, which weakens bones.
It had been hoped the stem cell surgery would regenerate Schumacher’s nervous system and would be carried out by French cardiologist Dr Philippe Menasche.
The doctor has previously managed to graft healthy stems cells onto the heart by replacing damaged ones with a healthy replacement.
While the surgery is deemed to be safe there is currently no evidence as to what impact it would have on the brain.
Meanwhile, Schumacher’s son, Mick, who was with his father on the day of his tragic accident, is now hoping to following in his dad’s footsteps.
The 21-year-old will finally make his Formula One weekend debut at the Eifel Grand Prix a week on Friday, and is currently signed up to Ferrari’s famed Driver Academy.
He will drive for Alfa Romeo in opening practice at the Nurburgring in Germany.