The day I beat...



Michael Schumacher

Ross Cheever: Japanese F3000, Sugo, July 1991

I hadn’t scored a point in the previous five races. The problem with our Reynard was that it ate the Bridgestone tyres and had a very small sweet spot. That weekend was one of those where it all worked. The car still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I took pole position and led all the way.

There was added pressure as Johnny Herbert and Michael Schumacher had joined me at Team Le Mans, albeit in Ralts. Michael qualified sixth, but was catching me quickly towards the end. The guy was outstanding from the moment he got there. We’d all been in Japan for many years: Mika Salo, Herbert, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Eddie Irvine. But by the end of that weekend the Bridgestone engineers weren’t talking to us anymore, they were going straight to Michael. A few words of feedback from him proved that this guy was different. I saw it right away and I thought I was going to lose my job — quickly. The team took the number one mechanic away from me and put him on Michael’s car once they saw how good he was. Thank God Mercedes brought him straight back to Europe.

One thing that surprised me was that he sat in the truck after practice and ate a candy bar. I guess he doesn’t do that now.