Brilliant Spa victory 30 years ago: Schumacher conquered Formula 1 with a tire trick

30 years ago, a world career really took off: Michael Schumacher celebrated his first Grand Prix victory in Spa.

Brilliant Spa victory 30 years ago: Schumacher conquered Formula 1 with a tire trick

30 years ago, a world career really took off: Michael Schumacher celebrated his first Grand Prix victory in Spa. The love affair between Schumacher and Spa continued to blossom over the next 20 years until the end of his career in 2012.

Looking up at the sky above the Ardennes, Michael Schumacher had "a feeling". And yet, on August 30, 1992, in the 30th round of the Belgian Grand Prix, the 23-year-old Formula 1 rising star didn't look like a winner, God knows. In the Stavelot curve, the Benetton driver slipped off the track, narrowly avoided an impact - and suddenly had the decisive inspiration.

His experienced teammate Martin Brundle overtook him. "And then I saw that blisters had already formed on Martin's tyres," said Schumacher as the winner beaming with joy: "That's why I caught absolutely the right moment to switch to dry tires." The result: Schumacher outperformed everyone. The dominating Brit Nigel Mansell, who had already secured the world title two weeks earlier. His teammate Riccardo Patrese, who was always a contender in the far superior Williams-Renault. And last but not least, the three-time world champion and "rain god" Ayrton Senna.

Only minutes after the start it had started to rain, the typical poker on the Ardennes roller coaster took its course. Senna gambled, the legendary Brazilian was hoping for a brief shower, stayed too long on slicks and fell far behind. But for Schumacher, who had celebrated a well-received Formula 1 debut a year earlier at Spa, the top spot seemed out of reach.

"The car was good, everything was okay. But at some point it just seemed like third place for me," admitted Schumacher - until, thanks to his improvised tactical trick, he also surpassed the Williams. His debut victory, the first by a German since Jochen Mass in Spain in 1975, was only a matter of time for many experts. Schumacher had previously achieved a podium five times in his first full season, and at the home game in Hockenheim he was literally overwhelmed by the Formula 1 euphoria he had triggered himself and cried tears of emotion.

At the German Grand Prix '92, Schumacher was publicly reprimanded by three-time world champion Senna for the first time - it was only the final proof that the stars of the premier class saw the ambitious Kerpener as a serious threat. The love affair between Schumacher and Spa continued to flourish over the next 20 years until the end of his career in 2012.

In 1995 he stormed from 16th on the grid to victory in the rain on his way to his second world title. In 2001, meanwhile in the Ferrari, Schumacher ousted the Frenchman Alain Prost from the top spot in the all-time list of winners with his 52nd Formula 1 success. In 2004, Schumacher secured his seventh and final world title in Belgium with second place, and in 2012 the circuit was the scene of his 300th Grand Prix.

It's no wonder that the Rhinelander calls the racetrack, which is only an hour's drive from his home town, his "living room" - and that he has long been an honorary citizen of Spa.

(This article was first published on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.)

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