October 22, 2006: Schumacher’s last last stand

There was a time when Formula 1 was no longer so trendy. A time when drivers weren’t fashion plates, cars made noise, and there was no Netflix to romance and amplify rivalries. In 2006, Michael Schumacher is at the twilight of his career. His reign ended last year when a young Spaniard stole his world crown after four seasons of unchallenged dominance. This year again, Fernando Alonso dominates him. The Renault is stronger and more reliable than the Ferrari. However, the German resists and would like to offer himself a title, one last, before bowing out. At the end of an incandescent summer and a sublime victory at Monza, Schumacher announced his retirement. He has three races left to shine and clinch an eighth world championship.

For his final GP, the “red baron” arrives in Brazil with an almost impossible mission: to win the race and count on a huge poor performance from Alonso (he must not score any points). Mission all the more delicate as Schumacher, still betrayed by his single-seater, starts in tenth position; his rival is fourth.

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Schumacher’s race will be a “best of” fifteen years of career: maximum risk taking, overtaking galore, euphoric aggressiveness… Not to mention the mistakes and the twists of fate. After a dizzying start to the ascent, he punctured following contact with Fisichella. Everything has to be done again. So Michael takes to the track again, accelerates hard, brakes late, overtakes skillfully, climbs back up quickly and hopes… But the race is not stretchable. After 71 brilliant laps, Alonso is crowned world champion. Michael Schumacher fails to get on the podium. Its most beautiful trophy remains this fight with unequal weapons – the Ferrari is less efficient than the Renault – and this fireworks of overtaking.

“Roulille”, Schumi?

“I am therefore putting an end to my career today. It is of course a special moment. I am proud to have been able to live alongside extraordinary people and all those people who are part of the Ferrari family. I could say a lot of things about them, but it is very difficult to find the appropriate words, ”explains the seven-time world champion at the end of the race. The desire for a last lap is too strong.

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Three years after Interlagos, Schumacher returns. The “red baron” becomes a silver arrow: he must accompany Mercedes’ return to Formula 1. After glory, setbacks. The first two seasons are difficult. “Rusty” and disturbed by the new regulations, he is largely dominated by his teammate, the future world champion Nico Rosberg. Finished, Schumi? It was not until the European GP in Valencia in 2012 that he finally won a podium six years later. But the desire is no longer there. The German makes mistakes, is betrayed by the reliability of his single-seater and, whatever people say, tarnishes his legend. At 43, he announced his retirement and Mercedes decided to replace him with a nugget of speed who will be talked about: Lewis Hamilton.

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Now he is coming to Brazil again. This last is like six years before: a bad qualifying, a puncture, a crazy comeback. He finished seventh, like the number of his world crowns. It will have offered a last stand of honor, a few passes of arms and a relay to a new generation of talented pilots but with less asperities. His tragic accident in Méribel, a year later, erased this almost failed return to leave room for compassion and regret: not seeing him at the wheel anymore.


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