Michael Schumacher is the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, having made his debut in 1991 for Jordan. The unknown racing driver was quickly snapped up by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore and the former F1 manager has revealed the team wasn’t convinced Schumacher was going to be successful when he first entered the cockpit. But he said, when the technicians saw him drive, they were immediately impressed by Schumacher’s driving ability.
In the RTL documentary ‘The Michael Schumacher Story’, Mr Briatore, who ran the Benetton racing team from 1989-1997, said when he first headed up the team he struggled to attract talent.
He said: “The good drivers would not drive for us anyway. No chance!
“They laughed at us. Benetton? We were a T-shirt company.”
But the tables soon turned when Mr Briatore signed Schumacher in 1992.
Mr Briatore recalled after he signed the 23-year old, Luciano Benetton, one of the co-founders of the Benetton Group, asked: “Who is this guy you want to put in our car?”
The former Italian F1 manager responded: “This will be our champion.”
The former manager also revealed the technicians in the team were immediately struck by Schumacher’s ability on the track.
He said: “We did a test on a small track with Schumacher. Then someone called me and said: This guy is a robot. It was wet, it was cold, but he drove faster every lap.”
Mr Briatore said after Schumacher’s competitors saw him compete, Benetton was no longer seen as just a T-Shirt manufacturer.
He said: “A T-shirt manufacturer beats everyone.
“When the others saw Schumacher drive, they all suddenly shut up.”
Schumacher won two world championship titles as part of the Bennetto team, before moving to Ferrari in 1996.
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The German racing car driver experienced success after success, winning seven world titles and 91 races over the course of his career.
He retired at the end of 2006, before making a comeback with Mercedes in 2010.
Schumacher then fully quit the sport in 2012 at the age of 43.
Lewis Hamilton took his spot the following year.
But tragically Schumacher sustained a traumatic brain injury following a tragic ski accident in 2013.
He has placed in a medically induced coma for six months and has been largely bed-bound since.
The F1 champion currently resides in his home in Gland, Switzerland, with few statements being released on his health.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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