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Was born on the third of January 1969 to Rolf and Elisabeth Schumacher. The family move to the town of Kerpin-Manheim, a working class town near Cologne, Germany.
It was there that the family became involved with karting. Michael, only four at the time was given a kart powered by an old lawn-mower engine by his father.
From so humble a beginning was a World Champion's career launched. Karting became a family obsession fed by the resourcefulness of the elder Schumacher and the spirit of young Michael. Rolf Schumacher's mechanical ability led him to work part-time repairing other go-karts at the local track. In 1980 he traveled to Nivelles, Belgium for the World Karting Championship and saw a driver that impressed him deeply, that driver was Ayrton Senna. Michael was soon making a name for himself and in 1984 he won the German Junior Championship. The European championship came his way in 1987.
The path to car racing started with Formula Ford or Formula Koenig as it was known in Germany. To compete at this level Schumacher would need sponsors and lucky for him several sponsors including Jurgen Dik had noticed the young German. His first full year competing in the series saw him win nine out of ten rounds. Willie Weber, his future manager, was running his own Formula Three team and gave Michael a test in one of his cars.
After seven or eight laps he was setting times 1 1/2 seconds faster than Webber's regular driver. Schumacher's first year in Formula Three saw him competing against future Formula 1 drivers, Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Wendlinger eventually nosed out his compatriots for the title. The next year was all Schumacher. Instead of graduating to Formula 3000 Webber placed his young protйgй in the Mercedes junior team driving a sports car for Sauber along with his former Formula Three rivals. Under the watchful eyes of Jochen Neerspasch andJochen Mass he was schooled in the art of race car driving. During this period Schumacher learned much of what would later become his trademark smooth style.
Opportunity arrived when Jordan's Formula One drive Bertrand Gachot found himself in jail and Schumacher was given a test with the Irish team. His times were a revelation and he was quickly signed or so it was thought. Jordan wanted to sign the young driver to a three year contract but Schumacher's advisors urged caution. Eventually a temporary deal was done and the rest as the saying goes is history. He made a brilliant debut at Spa in Belgium in a Jordan, where he qualified 7th ahead of his more experienced teammate.
After some legal wrangling that was only recently resolved he finished the year at Benetton. The next year he won his first race at Spa. Showing signs of brilliance his time would come in the black year of 1994 when he became World Champion. In 1995 after a hard and sometimes controversial battle with Damon Hill he became the youngest double champion. 1996 saw him move to Ferrari and marked the start of his biggest challenge.
Due to the tragic death of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher stands preeminent in Formula 1. The apparent lack of any real challengers to his supremacy should not be held against this very talented driver.
Is Michael Schumacher one of the very best? Only time will tell just as assuredly there will arise a contender to his throne. How he reacts to this will define his career.
When this biography was written back in 1997 I felt that Michael Schumacher still had something to prove when it came to being regarded as one of the greatest drivers of all time. Since that time he has answered his critics in the only way that counts, on the track.