Flavio Briatore recalls Benetton signing a young Michael Schumacher

Grand Prix of Italy

He would go on to have one of the most storied careers, not only in the history of Formula One, but in the annals of all sports.

However, incredibly, as he set out on his glittering career, there were many who harboured doubts as to whether Michael Schumacher had the talent to even make a career in the sport.

Schumacher is widely recognised as arguably the greatest F1 driver of them all.

Garnering a record seven world titles, and becoming an international sporting icon whose fame transcended the sport he dominated for so long, the German will always be associated with the red of Ferrari for whom he won five of his titles.

However, he got his big break in F1 when Benetton gave the relatively untested youngster the opportunity he craved, a drive with one of the most competitive teams on the circuit.

Despite having just one race with Eddie Jordan's outfit, Benetton swooped in and signed up the then 22-year-old, who would go on to win two world titles in their famous green and blue colours.

Team Principal Flavio Briatore has revealed, however, that it took a lot of persuasion to convince the team to take on the young and inexperienced German.

"No one was convinced of Michael," Briatore told German newspaper Bild.

"'He's not good, he's too young, he's to this and that.'


"But I was so sure everyone said: 'Yes, then sign him!'"

"I sent him the contract and we signed at three or four in the morning," the Italian added.

Confident as he was in the young man's ability, he could barely have foreseen the impact Schumacher would have on, not only the team, but the whole sport in the next few years.

Within three years of becoming an F1 driver he was to become world champion in 1994 under the guidance of Briatore. Another title came the following year before he made the switch to Ferrari and embarked on a run of five consecutive titles from the turn of the century.

German F1 driver Michael Schumacher walkes down a

Briatore looks back, however, only with fondness of his times with Schumacher and recalls how professional and helpful to the team the German always was.

"If there was a problem with the car, he tried to solve it.

"Other drivers would have said the car is s**t."

It is extraordinary to think, but for the powerful persuasion of Briatore, the Benetton team may have let one of the greats of the sport slip through their fingers.

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