michael schumacher, fernando alonso

Alonso: I treasure the helmet Michael gave me

michael schumacher, fernando alonso

Fernando Alonso broke the stranglehold that Michael Schumacher held over Formula 1 by beating him to the World Championship in 2005 and again in 2006, now four years after the sport’s most successful driver suffered a terrible skiing accident the Spaniard revealed his deep admiration for the driver who he rates as his greatest rival.

Alonso recalled, “He was a tough competitor, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. He was very quick, intimidating at times.”

“And it’s true, not only on the track. Schumacher was – is, will always be – one of those people who are what they seem or more. When he came walking towards you, you knew that he was someone special.”

Schumacher raced against and beat the best including the likes of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Mika Hakkinen to name some.

Many point to the seven times F1 World Champion as having the best car at his disposal which gave him the edge, but Alonso recalls times when this was not always the case.

The Spaniard remembered, “He performed better than expected at times, even during some races in 2006 where the Bridgestone and Michelin performed differently. There were times when Michelin were just better.”

“On the Friday Ferrari were not competitive and then in qualifying you saw him in second, for example, it was incredible, supercompetitive, a very tough competitor and a great, great driver. One of the few who could do things with an inferior car that others could not.”

During his final season with Ferrari, in 2006, Schumacher presented Alonso with one of his race helmets, a gesture that the Spaniard cherishes to this day.

“I will always treasure the helmet Michael gave me because he was without a doubt the greatest driver I’ve ever raced against. I have always looked up at him as an example.”

“It would have been fascinating to find out what would have happened if we had the same equipment at the same time. He was an incredible racing driver, incredibly competitive, a tough rival, a big man.”

Now on the fourth anniversary of Schumacher’s debilitating accident, Alonso wrote on Twitter: