Watch: Schumacher make his Mercedes World Sportscar race debut
In this free episode from Motorsport.tv’s rich Duke Classic Video archive, relive the drama of Michael Schumacher’s first start in the 1990 World Sportscar Championship at Dijon in France – as well as a startline shunt that almost took out the pace car!
Schumacher was making his race debut in the series, having been disqualified from his planned first start at Silverstone after receiving outside assistance when his Mercedes’ gear linkage broke in qualifying. Stewards excluded the car, which he shared with Jochen Mass, from the meeting.
Schumacher was sharing the drive across the season with fellow Mercedes junior drivers Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. At Dijon, Schumacher showed his class with a stellar stint after taking over from Mass in the #2 Sauber Mercedes C11, one of the fastest and most iconic Group C cars in history.
Schumacher immediately lapped the Jaguar of Andy Wallace, and began to carve into the lead of the #1 car driven by Mauro Baldi, despite running a lower turbo boost setting. He effectively halved the gap to the leading car.
Baldi pitted first, allowing Schumacher to lead briefly before he handed the car back to Mass. Baldi’s co-driver Jean-Louis Schlesser held on to win by 4s, but that stint from Schumacher had kept the pressure on, and resulted in a 1-2 finish for Mercedes. It was also the first of many world championship-level podiums from Schumacher.
Schumacher drove the car on two more occasions in 1990, finishing second again at the Nurburgring, but then going on to win the season finale with Mass in Mexico City by two laps.
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