Before entering Formula 1, Michael Schumacher drove Sauber Mercedes sports prototypes in which he developed specific skills that were useful to him later in his career, although he was not the fastest in them, explained his longtime manager Willi Weber.
Although the path of today's drivers to Formula 1 is very similar and includes top results in Formula 3 and Formula 2, in the early nineties this was not the case, so drivers in Formula 1 knew how to arrive from different racing series.
Before debuting in Formula 1 at the 1991 Belgian GP in Jordan, Schumacher became the champion of German Formula 3 in 1990 and made his debut in sports prototype racing for the Sauber Mercedes, and in 1991 he continued to compete in that series and competed in the DTM championship.
“I pressured him to compete in those series,” Schumacher manager Willi Webber told Motorsport-Total. "Some journalists attacked me for ruining his career, that I shouldn't do that."
Instead, Schumacher was expected to drive in a Formula 3000 that was on ‘shaky feet and in which you never knew which team to go to’.
"First, it was too expensive, and second, too insecure." "I believed that Group C [of the sports prototype endurance race], with Sauber, was the right decision." "He learned to work with more than four mechanics, he had to learn to drive qualifiers, deal with a team that is the focus of the public, and a lot of other things, so I thought it was a good stop in his career."
"He learned a lot for the future, you might have noticed that later." Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson, who also competed in sports cars before and after his F1 career, agrees with Weber. “When you drive prototypes in the long run, you have to improvise all the time.
You have traffic, different weather conditions, dirt on the track, and many other things. You have to constantly improvise and drive with feeling. ” “It’s even harder to be fast in such conditions than simply driving a car at the border when everything is ideal.
Every driver I have worked with will encourage you to drive sports cars as much as possible because there is no better training. ” “You need a special technique to get the speed out in these conditions. Honestly, I think Schumacher had an advantage in F1 because he drove sports cars for a few years.
” Although Schumacher was very good at Sauber, he was not at the level of teammates, but he was also not aiming to be the best and fastest but to learn as much as possible. "It wasn't his thing, it's not a car.
You can't throw those cars into corners like Formula Ford or Formula 3 or later Formula 1, which he drove with the precision of a Swiss watch. ”