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Michael Schumacher’s ‘struggle’ after accident laid bare, F1 news 2021, Netflix documentary

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Before Michael Schumacher was the greatest driver of his generation – and possibly ever – he started out like everyone else, as the new kid on the block.

The F1 legend grew up idolising Ayrton Senna, a three-time world champion and one of the smoothest operators to ever grace a track, still revered to this day in racing circles around the globe.

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Just a handful of years before Schumacher was lining up on the grid alongside Senna, he had posters on his bedroom wall of the Brazilian superstar who won world titles in 1988, 1990 and 1991. He wasn’t alone.

“Everyone looked up to him (Senna),” former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says in SCHUMACHER, the new Netflix documentary set to be released next week. “If you suddenly started in the same thing, you wanted to be him.”

From humble beginnings in Germany with his working class family, Schumacher graduated to the pinnacle of racing in the early 1990s and suddenly he wasn’t just admiring Senna from afar — he was fighting him for a place on the podium.

Schumacher enjoyed plenty of rivalries during his illustrious career but his early days were defined by his battles with Senna. One of their more memorable clashes came at the 1992 French Grand Prix during Schumacher’s first full season with Benetton, when the German came from behind on the hairpin bend and crashed into Senna, sending them both out of the race.

Senna confronted Schumacher afterwards, blaming the rookie for ruining his day. It wasn’t the last time the pair would clash.

As Benetton’s former technical director Ross Brawn says in SCHUMACHER: “I don’t think Michael set out to try and upset him, I think Michael was racing everyone in formula one the same way he’d raced everyone (previously), as he should have done.

“It caused some friction and Ayrton tried to put Michael in his place a few times on the track, which upset Michael. He didn’t think that was equally respectful. They were a bit fractious in that early period.”

Ex-Benetton boss Flavio Briatore adds: “At the time Michael was really a super driver. When he had the fight with Senna (in France), Senna smelled the guy was somebody. When you’re a lion, all the lions will feel it when the young lion is arriving, and you want to keep the territory.”

Senna celebrates another podium as Schumacher smiles in the background. (Photo by Julio Pereira/AFP)Source: AFP

In 1994, Benetton surprised everybody by emerging as a genuine title threat — in no small part thanks to Schumacher’s brilliance behind the wheel. At the San Marino GP that year, Senna was leading with Schumacher close behind in second when tragedy struck.

The Brazilian lost control of his car at the Tamburello corner and slammed into the barriers at more than 300km/h. The race was stopped, Senna was flown to hospital and later pronounced dead.

“The fact is that what he (Senna) was doing when he crashed when he went off the circuit, he was trying to stay ahead of Schumacher,” sports writer Richard Williams says in the documentary, which features insights from those who knew Schumacher best and never-before-seen archival footage, including interviews with the man himself.

In the doco, Schumacher reflects on that horrific day and the weeks that followed. He’d seen similar crashes before where drivers had walked away with just broken bones and bruises, so couldn’t wrap his head around what happened to Senna.

After Senna was taken to hospital, the race restarted and Schumacher went on to win. But there was no champagne on the podium, with everyone still waiting for news on the condition of one of the world’s most-loved drivers.

Mixed messages and differing details followed. Schumacher was told Senna was in a coma, then another person told him he was dead, then minutes later he was in a coma again. It was all changing until confirmation came of the worst news imaginable.

Schumacher (right) and everyone in F1 was heartbroken by Senna’s death. (AP-Photo/stf/Claudio Luffoli)Source: AP
Senna was a legend when Schumacher arrived in F1. (Photo: AFP)Source: AFP

Schumacher’s ‘struggle’ laid bare: How accident affected F1 legend

Schumacher was a competitive beast. You don’t become an F1 driver – or win seven world championships for that matter – without a unique desire to be the best.

What this documentary reveals is just how bloody-minded Schumacher was to achieve greatness. He wasn’t just unbelievably skilful, he also possessed the kind of bordering-on-psychotic quest for perfection found in the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

But Senna’s death cracked that aggressive, do-anything-to-win mentality for the first time. He’d never second-guessed himself before, but being so close to tragedy forced Schumacher to confront his own mortality.

“The worst was really the two weeks after this, once I had to accept that he is dead. This was just something crazy,” a young Schumacher says in the documentary.

“At Silverstone (British GP) I went there and you suddenly saw many things with different eyes. I went around with a road car through the circuit and I just thought, ‘This is a point you could be dead, this is a point you could be dead’. I thought, ‘Crazy. You always tested here, you always raced here, but there are so many points you can crash and be immediately dead’. That’s the only thing I was thinking of.

“I didn’t know the situation, if I was going to be in the race car. I wasn’t sure, ‘Can I drive without thinking that or am I going to drive always thinking now you can be dead here, if you go off here it’s going to be bad?’ That was something very strange.”

The new Netflix documentary shines a light on Schumacher’s competitive instincts. (Photo by Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Schumacher’s wife Corinna noticed a definite change in her husband, as he struggled to overcome the sense of fear he’d never experienced in a car before.

“We asked ourselves how it could have happened and Michael really asked himself if everyone was acting correctly,” she says. “It was really, really difficult. It was a real struggle for him.

“But he was a master at blocking things out. He was able to focus so intently on whatever he was doing that he blocked everything else out.

“So I think that mentally he’s very strong. It’s something he just has. Extremely strong. He still shows me everyday just how strong he actually is.”

Tragically, that wasn’t the only accident that rocked Schumacher. The 52-year-old hasn’t been seen in public since suffering a near-fatal brain injury while skiing in the French Alps in December 2013, and details of his condition remain scarce.

Corinna has promised to protect Schumacher’s privacy, and said in the documentary he is “different” as she broke down in tears discussing the incident in more depth than she ever has publicly.

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McLaren blunt message for Daniel Ricciardo, F1 news

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Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has spilt on his relationship with the McLaren engineers, detailing the “constructive criticism” he received throughout a chaotic maiden season with the British team.

Following a two-year stint at Renault, the Australian signed a multi-year deal with McLaren ahead of the 2021 championship.

Ricciardo partnered with British young gun Lando Norris, who repeatedly bettered his teammate during the first half of the season.

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Norris had claimed several podium finishes before the mid-season break, while Ricciardo was yet to secure a top-three finish when the drivers went on holiday in August.

The 32-year-old bounced back in September by winning the Italian Grand Prix – McLaren’s first F1 victory in nine years.

But Ricciardo’s woes continued after the Monza triumph, with McLaren slipping below Ferrari on the constructors’ championship as the season drew towards a close.

Ricciardo is currently eighth on the drivers’ standings with 105 points, comfortably below fifth-placed Norris on 153 points.

“The support of (race engineer Tom Stallard), and really the whole team, was good – they were very understanding and patient, for sure,” Ricciardo told GP Racing.

“But yeah, there was also at times a kind of ‘pull your finger out’, and I’m big enough to take constructive criticism – there were no insults or beating me down, it was always trying to understand, ‘Okay, what’s the issue, and then how can we help you?’ That was a more modern approach to take and it’s served us well.”

Daniel Ricciardo is currently eighth on the drivers’ standings with 105 points. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Ricciardo’s main cause of frustration in the MCL35M was the braking system, which forced him to undertake a different approach to his driving, a change that didn’t come naturally for the Australian.

“The natural picture in my head was that every lap I do in this car, I’d just get better,” Ricciardo explained.

“In Bahrain I qualified sixth and I knew I still wasn’t close to 100 per cent comfortable. So in my head I was like, ‘Well, each time I drive now I’ll just push the car more and more’.

“And then I, let’s say, hit an early plateau where the limit was a different limit to what I was used to. And to arrive at that limit, I needed to drive the car quite differently.

“The car has some really strong points but also some weak points, and I was just trying to navigate my way to the strong points. It didn’t always come natural for me.

“The key was trying to break it down and understand it corner by corner because, as a whole, there were times when I was seven or eight tenths away (from Norris) and I was like, ‘I can’t do that. I don’t know where that time is’.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren. Photo by Andrej Isakovic – Pool/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Even with me and Max (Verstappen), a really strong and competitive rivalry, I remember I was furious if he was two tenths faster than me. We all know the calibre of driver Max is. So – and I’m not taking anything away from Lando – a gap that big is like foreign territory really. I’ve never found myself in that position.

“It wasn’t like I made a mistake here or there, it was that I didn’t know where that chunk of time was. Tom was good at bringing it back and saying, ‘Look, let’s analyse, let’s go through this corner – why can’t you do that, what’s stopping you? Let’s figure it out, let’s go from A to B to C, as opposed to just going straight from A to F’.

“Race car drivers or athletes, we are a certain amount of stubborn. But you can’t take that to your grave, if you know what I mean.

“At some point you have to be open-minded and say, ‘All right, this is what it is. I have to now adapt and maybe I’m not comfortable with it at first, but take encouragement that the more I learn and get comfortable with it the better I’ll be’.”

The F1 season resumes next weekend with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which is scheduled to get underway at 4.30am AEDT on Monday, December 6.

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Lando Norris takes aim at ‘very creepy’ social media users

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Lando Norris is only in his third season as an F1 driver, but it hasn’t stopped a barrage of “creepy fans” dissecting every detail of not just his life, but his family and friends as well.

The 22-year-old made his debut with McLaren in 2019 and earned plenty of plaudits for his rookie season drives as well as his jovial spirit off the track.

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Norris would also often participate in Twitch streams playing the virtual edition of his sport alongside his peers George Russell, Alexander Albon and Charles Leclerc.

With 4.4 million followers on Instagram, the Brit has a large social footprint with plenty of devoted fans.

But there are drawbacks to Norris’ ever-growing popularity.

His family and friends have been targeted by online trolls for no reason other than simply appearing on Norris’ social media platforms.

According to the young star, it’s “the worst side” of being a famous athlete.

“I think the one bad thing is just personal life with friends, people who through no fault of their own get put into the spotlight sometimes because of being seen with me, following them on social media or something,” Norris told ESPN.

Lando Norris has been a revelation since making his F1 debut in 2019. Picture: Lars Baron/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“I think that’s been the worst side of it – someone who is just quiet on their own and they are seen with me at dinner or on a post on Instagram.

“There’s still a lot of nasty fans, a lot of fans which are just not nice and just use a lot of people and things like that.

“I’d say the worst thing about the popularity is those kind of people. The people who don’t respect your personal life at all and the people you hang with and so on.

“That’s definitely the worst bit of it.”

Norris said fans went to strange lengths to learn more about the loved ones featured on his social media.

Norris hit out at how people on social media can be “very creepy” with the info they uncover on his family and friends. Picture: Mark Thompson/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

It’s something the McLaren star can see the lighter side of, but is fully aware of the odd nature of it all.

“It’s very, very weird,” Norris said. “Honestly, it’s very creepy what some people do.

“The time they spend trying to investigate things or people or whatever.

“I just laugh and find it very funny, but it’s very weird. It’s just odd.”

Norris will get his next chance to put the online trolls out of his mind at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 6, with lights out scheduled for 4:30am (AEDT).

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how to watch, date, news, preview, Supercars, Jamie Whincup, Mount Panorama

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Jamie Whincup has detailed the “absolutely massive” Bathurst podium in 2005 that aided his move to Triple Eight.

Next weekend’s Repco Bathurst 1000 will be the retiring Whincup’s final full-time appearances before he shifts to team management.

It was at Mount Panorama where Whincup scored the biggest result of his fledgling career prior to his signing with Triple Eight.

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After a run of outs with Garry Rogers Motorsport and Perkins Engineering, a 21-year-old Whincup was signed by Tasman Motorsport for the 2005 season.

Top 10s came and went, but it was at Sandown and Bathurst where Whincup flexed his muscle alongside the late Jason Richards.

The duo finished third at Sandown, before they crossed the line second in the Great Race behind the might of Mark Skaife and the Holden Racing Team.

Just weeks later, Whincup was signed to Triple Eight, and the rest is history.

“It was absolutely massive,” Whincup told The Howie Games podcast.

“I’ve got this lifeline to get back into the sport through Greg Murphy’s father Kevin.

“Little did I know at the time that a certain team boss, Roland Dane, he was looking for a young, cheap kid that could stay out of trouble all year and team up with Lowndesy to win Bathurst.

“For me to run second, hand the car over to Jase in the lead with 30 laps to go, that was a huge pivotal point for me to get the opportunity with my current team.”

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Whincup won on his first appearance as a Triple Eight driver in Adelaide, and returned to Bathurst and won with Craig Lowndes.

In 14 seasons since, Whincup added 122 more wins and a record seven drivers’ titles, as well as three more Bathurst victories.

Whincup cited the Adelaide breakthrough as a “fairytale” and highlighted that it was proof he could stick it out long term if he continued to race at the front.

“The car was fantastic; I was a passenger,” he said of Adelaide 2006.

“We ran third on the Saturday and won on the Sunday. It was a fairytale start to my journey with Triple Eight.

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“There’s a common saying in motorsport; you’re only as good as your last race.

“It’s so true; you have a win, and you’re hot property. You’re the man of the moment.

“Winning was huge for me back then, and it started to cement that, hey, I had longevity if I was given the opportunity.”

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship and Dunlop Series seasons will conclude at the Repco Bathurst 1000.

Every session of the event will be broadcast live on Foxtel (Fox Sports 506) and streamed on Kayo.

This article first appeared on supercars.com and was reproduced with permission.

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