The German motorsport legend is 52 today and continues to recover from his tragic skiing accident in 2013. While descending the Combe de Saulire in the French Alps, Schumacher suffered a brain injury that has since left him debilitated. He was skiing with his son and Haas driver, Mick, when crossing an off-piste area of the resort when he hit his head on a rock.
And while Schumacher was wearing a helmet, the accident was enough to send him into a coma.
He eventually regained consciousness in 2014, and was allowed to return home to continue his recovery.
Updates on his health remain few and far between but his Ferrari manager, Jean Todt, in 2019, said he was making “good progress” but “struggles to communicate”.
Archived footage posted to the sportsman’s website in 2013 revealed how much he was plagued with self-doubt.
This was despite him being one of the most decorated racing drivers in history.
In the video, he said: “Records are one thing, doubts, I think it is very important to not be overconfident – to be sceptical, to look for improvements.
“Yeah, I always felt I am not good enough, I have to work, and that was one part of the recipe that made me what I became.”
Reflecting on his career, the then 45-year-old said his most memorable victory was his first championship with Ferrari in 2000, naming Mika Hakkinen as his greatest rival.
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Schumacher won his first two championships with the now-dissolved team Benetton in 1994 and 1995.
He then won five titles in a row with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004, cementing his place as an icon of the sport.
In October Lewis Hamilton, the British racing driver who races for Mercedes AMG Petronas, overtook Schumacher’s record after he won his 92nd Grand Prix.
Today Hamilton paid tribute to his “hero”, and wished Schumacher a happy birthday.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “Happy Birthday Michael, thinking of you today”
Hamilton is now level with Schumacher on seven World Drivers’ Championships.
In October, when he surpassed Schumacher’s record, Hamilton dedicated his achievement to the “phenomenal” Schumacher, who he said was his “inspiration”.
He said: “When you grow up watching someone you generally idolise them in terms of the quality of the driver they are but also what they are able to continuously do race on race, year on year, week on week.
“So it’s an incredible honour and it’s going to take some time to get used to it.”