After Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 title triumph was the subject of a legal dispute by Felipe Massa, a respected F1 reporter has called for Michael Schumacher to be stripped of the first of his seven World Championships too.
Comments by former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone earlier this year prompted former Ferrari driver Massa to launch a legal challenge against the result of the 2008 World Championship, with the Brazilian’s unhappiness surrounding that year’s highly controversial Singapore Grand Prix.
Massa, who led from pole position in the early stages of the race, finished a lowly 13th at the Marina Bay street circuit after Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr crashed intentionally, sparking a Safety Car period that allowed team-mate Fernando Alonso to win.
Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton both won first F1 titles in dramatic circumstances
Massa was ultimately pipped to the title by a single point at the dramatic title decider in Brazil five weeks later, with his no score in Singapore proving pivotal to the final result.
Schumacher won his first Championship in similarly dramatic circumstances at the Australian Grand Prix in 1994, where the German driver collided with Williams rival Damon Hill in an incident that forced both men to retire.
With Schumacher and Hill both unable to add to their points tallies in Adelaide, the former took the title by one point.
Schumacher went on to scoop his second crown with the Benetton team the following season before winning five consecutive Championships with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 to establish himself as one of the greatest drivers in history.
Despite the scale of his success – matched only by Hamilton in 2020 – Schumacher’s career was peppered with a number of controversies including his deliberate collision with another Williams driver, Jacques Villeneuve, at the 1997 title decider and the infamous Rascasse-gate incident in 2006 when he parked his car on track at the climax of qualifying to prevent rivals from challenging for pole position.
In a recent interview with Swiss-German publication Blick about his long career covering Formula 1, legendary journalist Roger Benoit admitted he only regards Schumacher as a six-time World Champion – claiming the 1994 should not be attributed to him.
Asked if he considers Schumacher to be the greatest racing driver of all time, Benoit said: “As a six-time World Champion, he certainly belongs in the top five.”
Pressed on why he referred to Schumacher as only a six-time title winner, he replied: “Of course, I know that he was World Champion seven times.
“But the 1994 title should actually be taken away from him, because he only won it because of his foul on Damon Hill.”
Schumacher retired from F1 for the first time at the end of 2006 before making a largely unsuccessful comeback with Mercedes between 2010 and 2012, when Hamilton was chosen as the German’s replacement by the Brackley-based team.
Schumacher has not been seen in public since suffering a brain injury in a skiing accident in December 2013.
His son Mick currently works alongside Hamilton at Mercedes as the team’s reserve driver, having raced for Haas in 2021/22.