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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Michael Schumacher Is Currently Winning His Toughest Race Of All

Apparently Caterham do kit watches now...
Most children have at least two heroes. One is their dad. The other is often a celebrity. You don't choose your heroes with any particularly good reasoning at that age, though. As I grew up watching Formula 1 in the late 1990s and through the 2000s, I picked Michael Schumacher for the perfectly reasonable reason that he has the same first name as me. I liked Michael Jordan and Michael Owen for the same reason back then, but Schumi topped them by also driving a Ferrari F1 car, usually very, very quickly indeed. He was no saint though - I remember him serving a Drive-Through Penalty on the last lap of the British Grand Prix one year, crossing the line first as he cruised through the pit lane. Plus he's tried more than once to win championships using... "physical persuasion" on track, succeeding against Damon Hill in 1994 and failing against Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. But ultimately, he is the most decorated F1 driver in history for a reason, and that reason is that he is also one of history's greatest F1 drivers. Undeniable speed behind the wheel, ruthless determination at all times and an uncanny ability to be in the fastest car gave Vettel Schumacher a grand total of seven World Driver's Championships, ninety one Grand Prix victories and more points than an internet forum could make in a 100-year religious debate. All told, he holds a staggering twenty-nine records, and as former rival David Coulthard said in his moving article in The Telegraph yesterday, his three-year return from 2010-12 at Mercedes GP - while unsuccessful by his standards - showed us his more approachable, more human side.

But now, as you may have gathered, the 44-year-old father of two is in the most challenging race he's ever faced: the race for his life.

Two days ago, "Schumi" was skiing with his son on the Dent de Burgin near Méribel in the French Alps, when, after helping a fallen friend, his skis hit a hidden rock that somersaulted him through the air until he landed head-first on a second rock, hard enough to break his helmet in two. It has emerged that while he seemed OK initially, doctors discovered he has actually sustained bilateral lesions in his brain, and so he was put into an artificial coma the following day. Since then, he has had two operations to relieve some of the pressure in his brain and is improving, but he remains comatose and is not out of danger yet by any means. For a more knowledgeable explanation of his condition and what it means, you need to read Former F1 Doc's blog (here).

All I can really say at this point is that, like millions of others worldwide, I wish that he recovers fully and my thoughts are with him, his doctors and his family at this difficult time. It's time for him to show that relentless strength that's defined his life thus far as he races against forces far greater than what a V10 F1 car could ever generate. So far he seems to be winning, but it's not over yet.

Get well soon, Michael. You can do it.

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