Michael Schumacher accident ‘turning point’ discussed as 10th anniversary looms

Thomas Maher
Michael and Ralf Schumacher in the F1 paddock at the 2001 German Grand Prix.

Ralf Schumacher has opened up on his brother Michael's skiing accident, 10 years on from that fateful day.

Ralf Schumacher has shared his thoughts on his brother’s skiing accident as the 10th anniversary of the incident approaches.

Michael Schumacher suffered life-changing injuries in a skiing accident on December 29th, 2013, while on holiday with his wife and children in Switzerland. His injuries have been such that the seven-time F1 World Champion has not been pictured or seen in public since the date of the accident.

10 years on from that fateful day, his brother Ralf – once a sparring partner at the forefront of Formula 1 as the younger brother drove for Williams-BMW – has shared his thoughts on that turbulent time in his and the family’s life.

Ralf Schumacher makes plea for privacy

Speaking in an interview with Sky Germany, for whom he is a regular F1 pundit, Schumacher opened up on how he misses the times when his older brother helped him find his feet as an F1 driver, and made a plea for privacy for the family.

“It’s shocking how long ago that was and how quickly 10 years have passed,” he said.

“I miss that time when he was my mentor, the time we spent together. It was a turning point for the whole family back then. We agreed not to comment on it, more or less. There is still a lot of interest.

“I would sometimes wish for a bit more peace and quiet for the family, that people don’t ask so many questions. I believe that Michael had his time in the public eye and it was all great for him and I believe that whole generations have followed him in motorsport.

“But, after such a long time, it’s time to understand that you need privacy, even if it was a dramatic experience. It always surprises me how many people think of Michael and that’s nice. But some people still go a bit too far and too close to the family.”

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Ralf Schumacher: I have wonderful memories with my brother

With Ralf making it to Formula 1 six years after Michael had managed, the German said it would have been impossible for him to make it into the sport without the help of his brother – who was a double World Champion by the end of 1995.

“If you think about where our story began: On the go-kart track with our parents all the way to Formula 1 together,” Ralf said.

“What we were able to experience was unbelievably great. For him, of course, it was in a completely different dimension. But much more important was the journey we took together. When you see these pictures from the time when he was my mechanic and mentor. Those are wonderful memories.

“It’s clear: without my brother, I would never have ended up in Formula 1. Where would it have come from? You have to have certain connections for that. It all costs a lot of money and that was incredibly helpful, especially with [manager] Willi Weber.

“And I am eternally grateful to both of them. Of course, at the end of the day you have to drive a car yourself, there’s no question about that. But you still have to be paved the way.

“Due to the greater age difference, we didn’t have so much in common as children. He was more of a big brother who had to look after me at times.

“We had a really great and fast-paced time. The most important thing about our family is that we always did things together.

Of course, there was an odd disagreement between us when we were racing against each other in Formula 1. If, by chance, I was on an equal footing, for whatever reason, or was able to win a race against him, then we often spent time together after the race.

“These are all wonderful memories, including the legendary Suzuka parties. Of course, we wouldn’t want to miss any of that, no question about it.”

Ralf has since become a very vocal supporter of Mick Schumacher – Michael’s son – in his motorsport career, becoming a cheerleader for the young Haas driver during his time in F1.

With Mick moving on to a programme with Alpine in the World Endurance Championship, Ralf is full of praise for his brother’s family and how they have had the strength to endure through what has been a tough 10 years.

“First and foremost, it’s great to see what Corinna has achieved, she really is an incredibly strong woman,” he said.

“And of course the children: Gina on the horse. Mick, who was also in Formula 1. Now he has a new job that can help him again. Things have gone better with the children than many could have wished for. So it’s all good.”

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