The 1992 Mexican GP: Michael Schumacher’s First Podium
The 1992 F1 Season
In all practical wisdom of classification, having made his F1 debut in 1991, Michael Schumacher was a rookie in the 1992 season. All believed that age-old norms of classification except Michael Schumacher. In just the second year of his F1 career, Michael was already making heads turn. Whenever he did finish a race, Schumacher was consistently in the top six. That would be an excellent finish considering that his teammate Brundle found it hard to finish in the first six spots.
Also, Schumacher was amid greats of that time – Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. Although Prost missed the 1992 season, the circuit still had racers like Patrese in the supreme Williams car partnering Mansell, Gerhard Berger partnering Senna and many other good drivers. Surely, a rookie would have been overwhelmed by the grid, but Schumacher was not just another rookie. He was good, though he was yet to make the podium.
Was the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix going to be any different?
Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
The Benetton team in the 1992 season had to make do with the previous year car for the first three races.
There was a delay in bringing in the B192 car for the 1992 season and hence the B191B (with slight upgrade) car from the previous season continued for the first three races of 1992.
The 1992 Mexican Grand Prix
The Mexican GP was the second race of the season and eighth race of Schumacher’s career. In comparison, Martin Brundle was the more experienced driver in the team and was expected to lead the team. However, Schumacher’s blistering finish in the US Grand Prix had started to tilt the team’s expectations towards him more than Martin. That said, expecting a podium finish was still far away from anyone’s fair assessment of the car’s or driver’s ability.
The Mexican GP was also supposed to be the last one for Mexico as Mexico would be out of the F1 calendar until 2015. However, rest was the same with the Williams cars dominating the front row of the grid. The Benettons of Schumacher and Martin followed in the second row, and the McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger were in the third row. In short, Schumacher did not have a shortage of competition.
Considering the past masters surrounding Schumacher at the starting grid, the run to the first corner could see him lose position, and that is what happened. Ayrton Senna, Martin and Berger swiftly overtook Schumacher at the first corner. Have a look at the race summary to get a gist of the proceedings.
Despite losing the positions, Schumacher quickly overtook the others. In the twelfth lap Ayrton Senna had problems with his car thereby granting Schumacher an easy pass into third place. The race position remained more or less the same until the end.
Did You Know?
As ironic as it may sound, Michael Schumacher’s first podium in 1992 came in the 1991 Benetton car B191B. And Michael’s best finish in 1991 in the same Benetton car was only a fifth position in the Italian GP.
Also, for palindrome enthusiasts, the Benetton car nomenclature B191B is a palindrome.
Schumacher’s Podium Finish
The third place was the best position that Michael finished until then. Then, of course, there were the podium celebrations. Here, take a look.
The best part was that Michael was already seen as one of the main competitors to the Williams team, and that was the best compliment he could get because Senna, a triple world champion, was still around. In fact, Michael finished the 1992 season at third place behind the two Williams and ahead of Senna. That was one heck of a finish by a rookie.
So, that’s how Michael made it to his first podium, and 154 other podium finishes followed it with 91 of them on the first spot.
It was indeed a lightning transformation from a rookie to a championship-winning driver, much like Schumacher’s lightning laps around a track!
Back to the Garage
Schumacher’s early exploits showed visible signs of his world-beating future. As Niki Lauda would opine that he felt Schumacher was indeed a strong driver from his early days as compared to other F1 greats early on in their careers. Well, we can only say that Niki Lauda had a great eye for great drivers because Schumacher went forth to conquer the world; not once but seven times.
And if anyone wanted to know where it all started from, then the answer was the 1992 Mexican GP.
© 2020 S K