“I decided to have Michael Schumacher”- Former Benetton managing director reveals how his team zeroed on the seven-time world champion.
Michael Schumacher is regarded as arguably the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. However, before Benetton gave him a big break in Formula 1, others were likely to get the F1 seat, but what changed?
As revealed by Benetton’s former managing director, Flavio Briatore confessed that Schumacher was never on the top of his list, and it was Benetton’s lack of prominence that brought the German to F1.
“Benetton had no credibility to hire people like Senna, like Prost, like Gerhard Berger. We don’t (didn’t) have the money and the reputation,” Briatore said.
“So, at the time, I needed somebody to grow with the team. The idea for me was looking at the young promising drivers. We were looking in Group C, in Mercedes, looking in the team of Peter Sauber.”
“And at the time, the three talented drivers were Wendlinger, Frentzen and Michael.” The trio was a part of Formula 3 back in 1989, and Frentzen was the hottest prospect among them, as claimed by Briatore. Even though, Wendlinger claimed the championship against the two by a point.
“Everybody was pushing more or less for Frentzen. It looked like Frentzen was the more promising guy. In the end, I decided to have Michael Schumacher in the team, and Schumi was sensational for us,” said the Frenchman
The rest is history
Schumacher then went onto rule F1 at the turn of this millennium and sealed two world championships with Benetton, a gamble well played by the team.
Meanwhile, credits to Jordan, who gave a debut to Schumacher, where an incredible qualifying performance aroused everyone’s interest for the German.
Eddie Jordan has claimed that he was set to hire Schumacher eventually, but then he went with Benetton.