PARIS: From a young driver with a delinquent temperament to the all-conquering “Red Baron” of Formula One, Michael Schumacher was for many a year the undisputed king of the circuit.
A ruthless and at times controversial competitor, the German won an unprecedented 91 races, and seven world titles including five in a row with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004.
But his stupendous life of glory and triumph turned suddenly into tragedy in late December when he smashed his head off a rock after falling while skiing off-piste with his 14-year-old son in France.
Brain surgery and an induced coma followed and then months of agony for his family, friends and fans around the world as they waited for him to regain consciousness in the specialized unit of a hospital in Grenoble.
Finally on Monday, nearly six months after the accident, they heard the news they had been waiting so long to hear, that he had emerged from his coma and had been transferred to another hospital in Lausanne “to continue his long phase of rehabilitation.”
Schumacher retired in November 2012 holding every major statistical benchmark—the most world titles (7), wins (91), poles (68), fastest laps (77) and races won in a single season (13).
After years of racing in the high risk world of Formula One, his skiing accident suggests that retirement had not dulled his relish of dangerous pursuits.
Holder of a pilot’s license, an accomplished motorbike rider, parachutist, skier and mountain climber, the young retiree had not lost his love of risk taking, turning his back on the career of television pundit embraced by many of his former rivals.
He already survived a motorbike accident in Spain in 2009 suffering head and neck injuries but that time he was released from hospital after just five hours.
As an F1 racer, Schumacher was known for his daring overtak ing manoeuvres, his at-times almost reckless abandon in the pursuit of victory.