Schumacher's first win for Ferrari - Spanish Grand Prix 1996 30 Apr 2003
The 1996 Spanish Grand Prix was held in such awful conditions that the race organisers had considered starting it behind the safety car. The downpour in which the race was held took its toll, but Michael Schumacher made the conditions look easy. If evidence was ever needed of the German's prowess in the wet, the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix put it beyond any doubt. The win was also the first for Schumacher at the wheel of a Ferrari.
On the first lap Pedro Lamy, Ricardo Rosset and David Coulthard were all eliminated. Lamy's team mate Fisichella pulled his ailing Minardi into the pits and into retirement at the end of the opening lap, but on the track Jacques Villeneuve led Jean Alesi and Damon Hill.
Michael Schumacher had made a bad start in the wet conditions and had fallen back to sixth place. Undeterred, he was all over the back of Eddie Irvine's sister Ferrari. The German's calmness in the awful conditions was not mirrored by his team mate who, under immense pressure, threw his car into the gravel and into retirement. Schumacher was up to fifth.
Just a few laps later both Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill were in the gravel. Although managing to get back on track they had both lost places and Hill now found himself behind Michael Schumacher. On lap four Schumacher blasted past Gerhard Berger's Benetton and set about catching the leading pair of Villeneuve and Alesi, who had started to pull out a gap from the chasing pack.
By lap nine, Schumacher was right on Alesi's tail and chasing hard. Into Seat corner Alesi considered the conditions too treacherous to try and outbrake Schumacher, and the charging Ferrari was up to second. As always seemed to be the case in the mid nineties, Schumacher was in a class of his own and driving a very different race to anyone else.
On lap 10 Damon Hill spun again and parked his Williams Renault by the side of the track. Schumacher meanwhile brought yet more unhappy faces in the Williams pit as he eased past Jacques Villeneuve and into the lead.
Michael Schumacher put in the performance of his life, running over three seconds faster than anyone else. By the end of the race only six cars remained on track, Alesi finishing second, over a minute behind the Ferrari and just over two seconds ahead of Villeneuve's Williams.
In 1996 that sort of win for Ferrari was unimaginable but in just a few years time, the sight of Schumacher in Ferrari overalls on the top step of the podium would become the norm, not the exception.