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Schumacher to beat Prost's records?
For years we Prostists have been proud of Alain Prost's achievements in his racing career. Alain is a 4-time F1 World Champion - second only to 5-time World Champion, Juan-Manuel Fangio. Alain has also got a record 51 GP wins, a record 798.5 F1 championship points and a record 41 fastest laps.
When Alain retired as a driver after the 1993 season, all these records looked unreachable. And in the opening Grands Prix in 1994, we Prostists were cheering for Michael Schumacher for soundly beating Ayrton Senna. The latter had 41 wins before he died in the San Marino GP, 1994.
Never, never ever, are we Prostists "glad" at Senna's death. What we have all learnt from Professor Prost is the value of life. But while we were all very upset at Senna's (and Roland Ratzenberger's) death in the San Marino GP, we realized that Prost's records were all the more out-of-reach.
Not since Michael Schumacher got his 41st fastest lap in the European GP at Nurburgring, May 21, 2000. 7 years after Alain's retirement, his records in the number of GP wins and championship points were also seriously threatened by this same man we cheered for in 1994, Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher failed to register a record in the number of fastest laps in the remaining 11 Grands Prix in 2000, but with 9 wins in the season, he has accumulated 44 wins and 678 championship points. He's now only 7 wins and 120.5 points behind Prost. We are counting also his results in 1997 (78 points), which were officially, and rightfully, excluded by FIA after Schumacher's diabolic attempt to put Jacques Villeneuve out of the European GP in Jerez.
After winning the Japanese GP, and also Year 2000 world crown, Schumacher was quoted as saying: "Villeneuve was on the inside and I tried to close the door where the time for closing it was long gone. I was simply too late. In this moment I didn't think, I simply reacted. My mistake. Man, if only I'd looked into the mirror sooner."
...As if we would believe it wasn't a deliberate attempt.
If Schumacher repeats his Year 2000 feat next season, he would break Prost's fastest lap and GP win records, and would get real close to Prost's championship point tally.
Prost took Jackie Stewart's record of GP wins in Estoril, September 20, 1987. Jackie Stewart was smiling. "People might not believe me," said Sir Stewart, "but I'm glad to see Alain take my record. I am glad that it is he who has done it because he is the one who deserves it. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best race driver of his generation."
Prost is going to say the same thing. One can always hear from Prost how good he think Schumacher is, and Prost always comes to Schumacher's defence when Schumacher runs into controversy. Blaming Taki Inoue when Damon Hill accused Schumacher of "brake-testing" the Briton in Monza'95 was, to me, the first time Prost wasn't true to his words...
We support Prost not for his records, not for his enviable results, not for what Sir Stewart said of him. We support Prost because we know he is the best, because of his contribution to the sport. We shall NOT support Schumacher because of his results. We shall not support Schumacher for whatever Prost says of him. Schumacher can never match Prost until he shows us that he is genuinely sorry for what he did to Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez'97. Before he does, he is only a Senna.
November 5, 2000