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Michael Schumacher’s ‘cold ruthlessness’ untangled by F1 rival after angry Spa outburst

Schumacher won seven F1 world titles but his ‘win at all costs’ mentality could rub people up the wrong way

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Friday 15 December 2023 09:26 GMT
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David Coulthard has spoken in depth about Michael Schumacher’s “cold and ruthless” demeanour during their time as rivals in Formula 1 in a new documentary about the Ferrari icon.

Former McLaren and Red Bull driver Coulthard raced in F1 for 15 years from 1994-2008 and came up against Schumacher during his years of dominance, present in the paddock for all seven of his F1 championship triumphs.

But, in a new documentary airing in Germany titled Being Michael Schumacher, Coulthard has revisited the infamous scene of Spa-Francorchamps in 1998 when the German and Scot collided in the wet prompting a furious Schumacher – after he drove his stricken, three-wheeled Ferrari back to the pits – to confront Coulthard in the pit lane.

“My understanding of where the limit was maybe more in line with the rest of the drivers,” said Coulthard.

“He [Michael] could be very ruthless, he could be cold, he could be distant. I think that’s probably what, at that level, you need to have to be that successful.”

Coulthard was racing for McLaren at the time, with his team-mate Mika Hakkinen up against Schumacher in the 1998 title race, eventually won by the Finn.

“Michael thought this was part of a conspiracy to try and help my team-mate Mika,” Coulthard said. “It was simply an accident. It was just one of those things.

“I would not be being honest to you in acknowledging how great a driver he was, that there were some downsides in my point of view of Michael’s really ‘win at all costs’ approach on the racetrack.

David Coulthard referenced Michael Schumacher’s ‘ruthlessness’ in a new documentary (Getty Images)

“[But] I have no problem acknowledging that the period I raced was against the man that has rewritten the history books. That is the most successful in the history of our sport.”

Schumacher has won the joint-most F1 titles of all time with his tally of seven, a record he shares with Lewis Hamilton.

He has not been seen publicly since he suffered a near-fatal brain injury during a skiing accident in Meribel, France, nearly 10 years ago.

Schumacher’s wife Corinna has insisted on protecting his privacy since the accident in December 2013, with his medical condition shrouded in secrecy as he continues to recover at home.

Among other contributors to the new documentary are Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Schumacher’s son Mick.

Being Michael Schumacher, a German-language five-part series, is now airing only in Germany on ARD’s media library.

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