Johnny Herbert, a former teammate of Michael Schumacher, says the German’s absence from the F1 paddock has left a “huge void”.
Schumacher, a record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion, suffered life-changing injuries in a skiing accident on holiday with his family in Switzerland on December 29th, 2013.
In the week of the 10th anniversary since his accident, his former Benetton teammate Johnny Herbert, now a broadcaster and F1 pundit, has spoken about the respect Schumacher commanded from his peers and how the drivers of today are experiencing the void left behind in Schumacher’s absence.
Johnny Herbert: Michael Schumacher was the one who drove today’s driver’s dreams
Speaking in an interview with Grosvenor Sport, Herbert spoke about how Schumacher’s accident has resulted in a very conspicuous presence being missing from the F1 paddock.
“There has been a huge void left since Schumacher’s crash,” he said.
“When the accident happened it was a big shock for everybody. He had been such a fixture around the paddock for so long, achieving all those wins and championships.”
Indeed, with Schumacher dominating F1 between 2000 and 2004, and being a consistent winner and title contender in the years surrounding, the German driver is likely one of the main inspirations and childhood heroes for many of the current grid.
“He was massively respected by the flock of current drivers at the time, but actually probably by nearly all the drivers today,” Herbert said.
“If you ask them who was the driver they looked up to and watched when you were growing up, they would say Michael. Michael was the one who drove them to achieve their dream of getting into Formula 1.
“He was a very important part of Formula 1 back then. Yes, people might have thought it was a boring period for the sport with his domination, especially when he was at Ferrari. That, though, just showed the true grit and domination Michael had at that time.”
Johnny Herbert: Jos Verstappen instilled Michael Schumacher’s values in Max
Herbert was teammates with Schumacher at Benetton in 1995, replacing the underperforming Jos Verstappen after the Dutch driver had a tough rookie season with the Enstone squad.
But Herbert believes that many of the standards created by Schumacher, ground-breaking at the time, are used as a template by many current drivers – particularly with Jos able to impart the wisdom of Schumacher’s techniques to his young son.
“A lot of drivers in modern times still use the experience of watching him on the track to motivate them,” Herbert said.
“Max is the obvious example. He has a very similar mentality because his Dad was a teammate back in 1994.
“I think even Jos has tried to instill a lot of what Michael was about as a driver and as a person and in the way he contributes to his team and how he worked within a team structure to get the best for himself.
“He is the only one who has used a lot of Michael’s ways in his own life.”