There is no doubt that Michael Schumacher is a Formula One motor racing icon. Amongst many other accolades, he is a joint record holder of seven World Drivers Championships with Lewis Hamilton; when he retired in 2012, he held the record for the most wins (91), most pole positions (68) and most podium finishes (155); he holds the record for the most fastest laps (77) and along with Sebastian Vettel, the most races won in a single season (13).
His Formula One career started in 1991 with a one-off drive with Jordan before signing with Benetton, who he stayed with till the end of 1995 He then joined the struggling Ferrari from 1996 until his retirement in 2006 but came out of retirement in 2010 to join the Mercedes team, whom he drove with until 2012.
Over his impressive F1 career, Michael Schumacher was noted for pushing his cars to the absolute limits for sustained periods of time; a pioneering fitness regime; and what many regard is his strongest point, being able to galvanise teams around him. So, on December 29th, 2013, when news of his snow skiing accident was released, the motor racing world was in disbelief. Since then, there’s been much secrecy around his well-being and recovery.
So, it’s not surprising that last month there was immense interest when Netflix released a documentary based on his life titled ‘Schumacher’. Three years in the making, it’s an impressive production featuring never seen before family vision, exclusive access to people close to Michael and an insight into the life of a great athlete and family man.
Although many, like myself looked at the documentary and thought how amazing Michael Schumacher’s achievements were, what an incredible legacy he has left on the motorsport world and how sad it is that he’s in the state he is now; but quite rightly due to his profile, others will be disappointed that there are many answers to obvious questions that aren’t given.
Paul Byrnes from the Sydney Morning Herald thought it was a “disappointing tribute to an extraordinary life” and wrote:
“It fails to tell us the most basic information – who, what, when etc – out of some misguided sense of propriety. If you don’t know that Schumacher had a major skiing accident in 2013 that damaged his brain, put him in a coma and a wheelchair, the film won’t tell you.
“Instead, we get aerial shots around the French ski resort of Meribel, where “something” happened, and no information about what. This is the worst kind of “delicacy” – abrogating the filmmaker’s responsibility to inform the viewer, out of some misguided sense of duty to the subject.
“Ultimately, it’s a sentimental portrait that wants to please the insiders. We on the outside have to scratch our heads and fill in the missing details.”
For me personally who knows a little bit about Michael Schumacher’s battles post the skiing accident, I really enjoyed the documentary and although it didn’t delve into all the aspects of his life that some might have hoped it would, it did give me a much better understanding of what made him the man that I will always admire.
“Schumacher” can be viewed on Netflix