M. Schumacher - Jordan&Benetton (1991)

Has Schuey ever been overawed? I suspect not. He showed no trepidation on his GP debut as he was strapped in the Jordan 191 and prepared to race at Spa. The paddock was already abuzz after his qualifying performance at the 1991 Belgian GP: even taking into account that he had the best-handling car on the track, seventh was a remarkable effort Burning his clutch out at the start probably cost him a podium finish, but he had done enough to awaken Benetton’s interest.

At the next GP, Monza, he found himself to be a key member of the Enstone team and amid a furore. He rose above it all, out qualified his team-mate Nelson Piquet and then beat him in the race — a feat he repeated in Portugal and Spain. He maintained that vital impetus in ’92, with a fourth and a brace of thirds in the first three races. And then came Spain. He backed up his first front row with an amazing performance on a rain-soaked track Without traction control,

as found on the Williams FW14Bs, he beat all but Nigel Mansell and made Senna — the acknowledged rain expert — look cackhanded. It was no surprise when, seven races later, Schuey won for the first time.

Schumacher moulded the Benetton team around him.Whether Button is ready to do the same is debatable, especially as it lacks the Byrnes and the Brawns that were in place when Michael arrived. But be sure that the pure racer who misses nothing will already have a mental file on the young man most likely to challenge him in the future. DM

Schumacher’s Rookie year

Championship position 12th=

Starts 6

Wins 0

Poles 0

Fastest laps 0

Points 4

Points per start 0.66

Average grid position 7.33

GPs led/Laps led 0/0

Race accidents 1