How Schumacher's first year marked him out as F1's king in-waiting
After his sparkling F1 debut with Jordan at Spa, Michael Schumacher quickly leapt to Benetton for the 1991 Italian Grand Prix. This move paved the way for the German to win his first grand prix one year later and laid the foundations for his ascent to become a title contender by 1994
Michael Schumacher first put himself on the Formula 1 map with his stunning qualifying performance on his debut with Jordan at the 1991 Belgian GP. But it was the rapid progress he made following his switch to Benetton that really signalled he was a potential world champion. Exactly 12 months after his first appearance, the 23-year-old German scored his maiden victory in a rain-affected race at Spa.
His first year at the top level remains one of the most spectacular logged by any driver in the modern era. Of course, Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 and Lewis Hamilton in 2007 both won races and challenged for the title in their rookie seasons, but they had the equipment with which to do so. Schumacher was usually battling with McLaren drivers Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger for the scraps left by the dominant Williams duo of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese, so the headline results were not as spectacular. But the talent was there for all to see.
Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…
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