Motorsport Is (No Longer) Dangerous: Schumacher's Ski Drama

If I was a cynic – which I usually am, to the point of misanthropy sometimes – I would probably start this mild harangue by quoting a non-sympathetic person who recently tweeted “rich person gets injured doing self-evidently dangerous holiday pastime' is neither news nor dreadful.” and saying that I completely approve.
Believe it or not, I don't approve, and this is despite not being Schumacher number one fan - like about 98.76 percent of all my friends and colleagues.

You could call me an anti-tifosi if you want, since I grew up watching the mighty German drive mainly for a Formula 1 team which has always made it very easy for me to hate them.

I'm well aware that he is technically a walking bottle of concentrated driving talent which in the recent decades has only been equalled by the likes of two Sebs – one that ends with Loeb and one that ends with Vettel.

On the other hand, I was always the type of person who keeps his fingers crossed for the underdog and have always treasured the type of pilots who also have a good amount of fun in their driving persona and aren't simply race driver versions of HAL 9000.

Which is why I was never a fan of Sebastian Loeb, nor Sebastian Vettel, who just like Schumy transformed winning into a tic movement, like that of a robot, if you like. It must be a curse to win so many races that you become boring.

Getting back to Michael Schumacher and his recent skiing accident in the French Alpine resort of Meribel, I would say that I'm right there with all the tifosi and the Schumy fans all over the world who are wishing him a speedy and full recovery from his injuries.

There's a part of me who can't help but think at the irony of the entire situation though.

After a rather long career in motorsport sprinkled with calculated risks and thousands of accident-free Formula 1 laps during three-different technology eras, the biggest and only life-threatening injury he has ever sustained was on a ski slope.

In other words, I know it's a bit of stretch but if you think about it, Michael Schumacher's skiing accident is a testament to motorsport safety and how it has evolved in recent years.

Going downhill on a pair of slippery sticks in the snow is officially much more dangerous than driving a carbon fiber missile with wheels at 300 km/h (186 mph) on the Eau Rouge – on which Schumacher was one of the few F1 pilots who never lifted mid-corner.

A long-time skiing fan, Schumacher's worst mistake was not braking too late at the end of the tunnel in Monaco in any given racing year but not taking into account the danger of early-season skiing, when the snow has just begun to accumulate and certain slopes are still hiding smaller or larger pieces of rocks underneath the puffy snow.

Not to mention the fact that Schumy was allegedly skiing off piste, where the risk of hidden rocks is even higher. His accident is similar, if you will, with actress Natash Richardson's tragic ski injury in 2009, from which she sadly passed away.

The only serious accident that Schumacher sustained during his decades-long Formula 1 career happened in 1999, at Silverstone, when he broke his leg and had to use crutches for the remainder of the season - with then team mate Eddie Irvine poking fun at the German and saying that he is finally faster than him.

Hopefully, the seven-time F1 world champ will recover well from what appears to be a life-threatening head injury, as the world of motorsport and not only still needs him as a living legend and a racing hero of our times.

What's the moral behind it all? Well, I would go as far as saying that the phrase which you can find on the back of almost any motorsport event ticket is no longer entirely true. Motorsport is no longer dangerous.


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories