Seven time World Champion Michael Schumacher faced many tough opponents who respected him throughout the course of his career.
Schumacher has had intense battles with several legendary figures in F1 like Damon Hill and Kimi Raikkonen. Being the incredible competitor that he was, the German was hugely respected within the paddock, in spite of sharing numerous on track rivalries.
However, according to him, Mika Hakkinen was the driver who respected him the most. The Finn himself is a two-time World Champion having competed in F1 from 1991-2001.
In an interview just two months before his tragic skiing accident, Schumacher revealed that Hakkinen was the driver with whom he shared a deeply respectful relationship.
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 14, 2016
“The most respected guy in all those years was definitely Mika Hakkinen,” Schumacher said. “Great fights but a stable private relationship.”
Hakkinen finished behind Schumacher as runner up in the 2000 F1 season. It was a campaign that saw plenty of tussles between the two legendary racing drivers.
Not being overconfident was key to success in Formula 1, said Michael Schumacher
In the same interview, Schumacher was asked if he ever felt too confident or doubted himself. We’ve all seen the German say in the past that he was very demanding of his abilities as an F1 driver.
According to him, if we don’t leave scope for improvement, success cannot be sustained. That is what him push hard, even after winning so many World Championships.
“Records is one thing,” he said. “But doubts? I think it is very important to not be overconfident. (We need) to be skeptical, to look for improvements, and to look for the next step. I always felt like I’m not good enough. I need to work on myself and I guess that was one of the recipes for success.”
After winning seven Titles, Schumacher left F1 in 2006 while with Ferrari. However, he returned to the grid and drove for Mercedes from 2010-2012. His last three seasons in F1 were not fueled by his ambition to win.
Rather, he was helping the Silver Arrows find their feet in the sport, since they had just made their return that year.