Warning: this review contains spoilers
When Sebastian Vettel recently said he was looking forward to Michael Schumacher’s new Netflix documentary telling him things he didn’t know, it was easy to think he might be disappointed.
After all, in a world where almost everything the seven-time world champion has done was in the spotlight of television cameras and the media, one would imagine that there is not much new to learn from his. life and career.
But during the nearly two hours of the film, which was made with the blessing of the Schumacher family, it’s almost impossible not to come away with a sense of altered perception of one of Formula 1’s greatest icons. .
Love him or hate him for what he seemed to be on the right track, Schumacher’s film looks a lot more at the personality and the man under the helmet, offering a rare glimpse of who he was when he was. away from the pit lane and paddock.
In fact, the film exposes the real two sides of Schumacher’s life.
On the one hand, the story of the global sports superstar who changed the course of F1 history as he played a pivotal role in Ferrari’s resurrection as a force in modern grand prix racing.
Then, on the other side, the father of the Schumacher family who gave everything for his wife Corinna and his children Mick and Gina-Maria. And in the end, as his last chapter of his F1 career unfolded with Mercedes, it was ultimately their draw that took him away from his first passion.
As manager Sabine Kehm remembers Schumacher saying he was away from home during his last Mercedes spell: “What am I doing here? I miss my family. Why am I so far? realized it’s not as important as it used to be My family is more important now.
For die-hard F1 fans, there is a lot in the documentary to grab attention. Mainly, there’s a decent splash of racing action from key moments in his career with Netflix having access to FOM’s archive library.
But the movie doesn’t rely on running the game for fun. Instead, there’s often a preference for behind-the-scenes footage that exposes in a much rawer way what Schumacher looked like and what he was dealing with at the time.
It includes Ayrton Senna’s confrontation with Schumacher on the grid of the 1992 French Grand Prix, after he was knocked out by the young German in the first round.
Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4 / 7A Honda leads Michael Schumacher, Benetton B191B Ford, Jean Alesi, Ferrari F92A and Martin Brundle, Benetton B191B Ford
Photo by: Motorsport Images
And there are also the moments before the podium at Imola in 1994, when Schumacher is addressed by his boss Benetton Flavio Briatore and informed that Senna’s condition was not good as he was in a coma.
It is in television interviews after the events of Imola that we can see the raw impact that the events of that day had on Schumacher. And they are a far cry from the sometimes distant character of steel who has often been portrayed on grand prix weekends.
Thanks to the personal perspectives of drivers like Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and Mark Webber, and journalists Richard Williams and James Allen, allied with members of the Schumacher family, the door is opened on what Schumacher really was.
You see the ultra-competitiveness that has driven him throughout his F1 career. A young Schumacher explains that he chose to race for Luxembourg over Germany at the World Junior Karting Championships that year because qualifying was cheaper, and if he lost he wouldn’t risk his chance to go to the world championships.
There are also repeated indications of the innate belief that he never did wrong, which was a trait that surrounded some of his most controversial moments.
Ross Brawn reveals how it was only by watching a video replay of the collision with Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 European Grand Prix that he realized that Schumacher was at fault.
And Coulthard remembers, during a free-air session on Bernie Ecclestone’s bus after their collision at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, of how Schumacher refused to accept that he had done something wrong when ‘he hit the rear of the McLaren.
Asked by Coulthard if he ever made a mistake, Schumacher replied: “Not that I remember.”
The father of the family
Much of the film explores how uncomfortable he was with the attention that came from being an F1 superstar. FIA President Jean Todt, who has become a close friend after the years they worked together at Ferrari, explains how Schumacher struggled with stardom.
“Don’t make me a star,” Schumacher reportedly asked at the start of his F1 career.
He was someone much happier to be with the family, and that matters to both Corinna and the kids, plus that magic spell at Ferrari.
Corinna Schumacher congratulates Michael Schumacher, Benetton
Photo by: Motorsport Images
These are the words of Corinna and Mick that are perhaps the most moving of all, as they explain how life is so different in the wake of the skiing accident that left Schumacher with serious head injuries. from which he is still recovering.
“Of course I miss Michael every day,” Corinna says. “But he’s not just missing me. The kids, the family, his dad, everyone around him. I mean everyone misses Michael, but Michael is there. Different, but he is. there, and that gives us strength.
“We are together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to improve Michael and make sure he is comfortable. And to make him feel our family, our bond. . And whatever, I’ll do it whatever I can. We will all do it. “
For Mick, who has been very cautious in public about his father, the cruelty of the situation shows up in the film’s final moments – as he reflects on the many happy times he had as a child with his child. father.
“Since the accident, of course these experiences, these moments, which I believe that a lot of people have with their parents, are no longer present, or to a lesser extent,” he explains. “And in my opinion, that’s a little unfair.”
And the possibility of being able to talk about his motorsport experiences with his father, Mick says simply, “I would give up everything for that.”
SCHUMACHER is available on Netflix from September 15th