Michael was the foundation on which the Mercedes F1 team was built – Wolff
In a touching tribute to Michael Schumacher, Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff has credited the German legend as the foundation from which the team built on to become the potent force that it is today at the pinnacle of the sport.
Wolff said in an interview published on the team’s website on Schumacher’s 50th birthday that, “Michael has had a tremendous impact on Formula One. Not only did he set an incredible record – a record that is yet to be beaten – but he also shaped and changed the sport forever.”
“As a driver, Michael took Formula 1 to a whole new level with his attention to detail and his technical knowledge.”
“He did everything with great determination, from his engineering debriefs to his physical training, and was always searching for new ways to improve his on-track performance.”
Wolff added, “Michael is one of the founding fathers of the success we have had in the last five years. There is no other driver like him and his vast experience contributed tremendously in the development of our team.”
“He played a crucial role when we re-joined F1 and was one of the people who laid the foundation for our future success. We’re extremely grateful for everything he did for us. Today, we all tip our hats to you – happy birthday, Michael!”
After quitting Ferrari at the end of 2006 to make way for Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher was lured back to Formula 1 with Mercedes and made his return at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
He remained with the team until the end of 2012, when after a lacklustre season he decided to call it quits for a second time. In doing so he made way in the team for Lewis Hamilton. With the new Hybrid Turbo rules kicking in for 2014 Mercedes simply on another planet and have remained there ever since.
But after his skiing accident on 29 December 2013 it is not known how aware the F1 legend is of the sport he is King of or if he has witnessed (with all faculties) the enormous success Mercedes have had since.
Schumacher’s greatest success was with Ferrari but it was Mercedes who gave him his break in their Sportscar programme where his talents were obvious. They also helped fund his Formula 1 debut at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix with Jordan and the rest is history.
Referring to a more recent past, Wolff continued, “I remember when I first met Michael back in 2012, it was on a flight from Zürich to Singapore. He was sitting next to me and asked me if I was up for a game of backgammon.
“I think that I’m a decent backgammon player, but he absolutely crushed me in the first two rounds because I was so star-struck. Once I was over that, my game improved, and we ended up playing and talking for the entire flight.”
“We had a really good and honest conversation and when we landed it felt like I had known him for much longer than I actually did.”
With Mercedes Schumi never won a grand prix or a world title, nevertheless, he has a record 91 Grand Prix victories to his name, as well as seven Formula 1 World Champion titles.
We, on behalf of our community, join Mercedes in “Wishing Michael Schumacher all the very best on his birthday!”
91 wins, 68 poles, seven @F1 titles… a true motorsport icon, who turns 53 today!
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) January 3, 2019