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Schumacher, Spa and the 200 race twist 05 May 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 4 April 2004

Champion about to join ranks of double centurions

This weekend Michael Schumacher will join an elite club when he becomes only the eighth Formula One driver to make 200 Grand Prix appearances. Schumacher made his debut with Jordan back in 1991 at the Belgian Grand Prix and, strangely, the entry list for that race included all seven other members of the ‘200 plus club’.

Two of them were on the podium at the end of that Spa race. Gerhard Berger was second for McLaren – the Austrian went on to make 210 appearances – while Nelson Piquet, who would be Schumacher’s team mate for the very next race, was third for Benetton. He finished his Formula One career on 207 race entries.

Also in the points that day, finishing fifth for Williams, was the sport’s most prolific driver, Riccardo Patrese. The Italian appeared on the entry list for 257 Grands Prix between 1977 and 1993 and incidentally ended his career as Michael Schumacher’s team mate at Benetton.

Immediately in front of Schumacher’s Jordan on the 1991 Spa grid was the Ferrari of Jean Alesi. The Frenchman’s Grand Prix tally would go on to reach 202. Alesi’s team mate on that day was Alain Prost – until Schumacher, the sport’s most prolific winner – who also entered 202 races during his time in Formula One.

Schumacher’s Jordan team mate for the Belgian race was Andrea de Cesaris, who ultimately racked up 214 Grand Prix appearances. Unlike the other seven members of the 200 plus club, the Italian driver never won a Formula One race, though he did finish second on two occasions.

So what of the seventh club member? Scan the results from Belgium 1991 and you will struggle. Turn your attention to the entry list, though, and you will find Michele Alboreto. The Italian, who eventually left Formula One racing in 1994 after 215 Grand Prix entries, failed to pre-qualify for Footwork that weekend.