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View Poll Results: Round One Schumacher vs Bellof
Schumacher 13 92.86%
Bellof 1 7.14%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 3 Mar 2021, 19:49 (Ref:4038444)   #1
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The GOAT - Round One - Schumacher vs Bellof

The thirty-second and final match-up in Round One sees Schumacher vs Bellof.

So who do you vote for as the greater driver?

Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher was the first driver in F1 history to optimize every area of driver performance, including athleticism, training, and real-time telemetry. He turned a gladiatorial sport into a science and the results were stunning. Today, we therefore talk of the pre-Schumacher and post-Schumacher eras.

For a period in the 1990s, Schumacher simply left the rest of the field behind, as far as professionalism and driving performances went. In that period, we were still treated to some epic championship contests, on account of Schumacher’s Ferraris typically not having the same level of performance as his championship competitors at Williams and McLaren.

By the early 2000s, the F1 grid was starting to be populated by a new generation of athletes. These were drivers who had all trained in karting from an early age and who had learned many of the lessons that Schumacher had applied. Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, and Kimi Räikkönen were all wunderkinds who debuted in F1 after only two years in junior single-seaters. By 2003, this new generation was finally beginning to challenge Schumacher’s mantle.

While Schumacher’s performance level was undeniable, there are two main criticisms often leveled at his career. The first is his unsportsmanlike conduct, which arose on numerous occasions (Adelaide 1994, Jerez 1997, Austria 2000, Monaco 2006, etc.). The second is his firm contractual number one status against almost every teammate, and the aggressive application of team orders.

Schumacher retired at the end of 2006, being ousted from his Ferrari seat in favor of Kimi Räikkönen. On return to Formula 1 in 2010, Schumacher’s driving lacked its former effortless brilliance and he was, at least at first, clearly outperformed by teammate Nico Rosberg.

The 2001 season was a near-perfect performance, with Schumacher finishing in the top 2 in all but three races: in two of those races his car failed (San Marino and Germany), in the other (Italy) he finished 4th and was beaten by Rubens Barrichello on merit. Overall in 2001, Schumacher beat teammate Barrichello 12-1 in counting races, 16-1 in qualifying, and 123-56 in points.

Of his many incredible skills, perhaps Schumacher’s greatest was his ability to consistently deliver 99.9%-level performances lap after lap for long stretches. He could switch on and maintain this qualifying-style performance with very rare errors whenever race circumstances dictated that it was necessary, at stages in a race when other drivers would be fatigued or prone to making errors under pressure. This was an extremely valuable asset in the refueling, tyre-war era of F1. Arguably, no other driver was quite as talented in this respect. This particular attribute is highlighted by Schumacher’s tally of 77 fastest laps, a record that would have earned him an extra 77 points under the scoring system in the modern day (or the 1950s).

Stefan Bellof
This shy German had started just 20 grands prix when he died in the summer of 1985, aged 28, and his best result in F1 was a mere fourth place at Monaco. But the fact that more than 25 years on his peers consider him the 35th greatest talent further establishes the legend of a shocking level of unfulfilled potential.

Bellof's dumbfounding speed was attributed by many of his rivals to a complete absence of fear, but there are those who believe he played on this reputation and was more calculating than the reckless spirit he projected.

Either way, the results Bellof achieved in Formula 2 and sportscars were spectacular both in form and the manner he produced them. That he died fighting for the lead of a world championship sportscar race at Spa in circumstances that could only be blamed on him, just as his career seemed destined to bloom, is a tragic yet appropriate epitaph for the ultimate 'what-might-have-been' driver.
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