In the town of Maranello in northern Italy, a museum will today open a special exhibition devoted to the career of one of the world’s greatest living sportsmen.
A sportsman the world has not seen for five years, a sportsman who has reached a landmark age.
Such has been the scarcity of information, Michael Schumacher is a figure who has slipped from public thinking.
Yet less than a week after the fifth anniversary of his skiing accident and on the occasion of his 50th birthday, it is worth remembering the legacy Schumacher – still under round-the-clock medical care in his home in Switzerland – has left.
Because that is how great sportsmen and women are remembered when their careers are done. By their legacy.
Muhammad Ali, Pele, Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus.
When they are retired, Roger Federer and Serena Williams will join those who have bestrode their sport.
Hall of famers.
The tragedy of his life-changing accident has softened the perception of Schumacher.
But talk to his racing rivals and they will recall an utterly ruthless competitor. Too ruthless for many’s liking, in fact.
One of sport’s most controversial moments came when Schumacher sealed the first of his record seven Drivers’ Championships by crashing into Damon Hill in Adelaide in 1994.
That is why he might not be considered with the same sort of affection reserved for the likes of the late Ayrton Senna.
But his achievements, his numbers, are his legacy.
To go with his seven world titles, he has …
*the most Grand Prix wins with 91 – still 18 ahead of Lewis Hamilton
*the most Grand Prix wins in a single season with 13
*the most wins at the same Grand Prix, taking the French eight times
*the most consecutive seasons with a Grand Prix win – 15
*the most fastest laps, his total 77 being 31 more than anyone else
*the most podium finishes, 308
*the most consecutive podium finishes, 19
And that is just a selection of the records held by Schumacher, whose first two titles were won with Benetton and the remaining five with Ferrari, whose museum is opening the exhibition today.
Members of the Schumacher family might attend but none are likely to give an update on his condition.
After suffering the brain injury in a low-speed fall on the Combe de Saulire above Meribel in France, information about his condition has been rare.
In his racing days, Schumacher was always a very private individual and his wife Corinna has maintained that approach.
Even his 19-year-old son Mick, who will race in Formula Two this year, does not give any insight into his dad’s health.
Schumacher Junior is expected to step up to Formula One in 2020.
Indeed, Ferrari are one of the teams keeping a close eye on his progress.
If the fabled attention to detail, determination and win-at-all-costs attitude runs in the genes, Mick will make it to the top.
He deserves everyone’s best wishes because he has a sporting giant of a father to live up to.
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