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When Michael Schumacher was close to McLaren

¿Michael sSchumacher with the colors of McLaren in the late 90s or early 2000s?

The rumor was that it was a scenario that the Woking-based team was intensely studying at the time. In an era forever marked by the duel between the German pilot, then in Ferrari, Y Mika HakkinenBoth could have driven for the same team, or the future seven-time world champion could have replaced the Finn.

The hypothesis will forever remain a fiction, and we know the glorious result for Schumacher and the Scuderia, with five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004. But Norbert Haug, which represented the interests of Mercedes at McLaren as vice president of competition during the years of the association, he admits that the supposed high-level signing was not just a pipe dream.

“I knew Michael from his time as a F3 driver when I was a journalist, and he went to Mercedes before I did,” recalls Norbert Haug on the Beyond the Grid podcast. “In 1991, Michael had already raced with Jordan at Spa, in 1992 he was at Benetton and two years later he was world champion. He went to Ferrari, where it took him five years to win his first world championship, in 2000.”

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“We were fierce competitors, but on the track and in the paddock we always had a good relationship. One day I jokingly told him that we should race together. There were secret negotiations in 1998, but it never got anywhere. In theory it could have been done, but it never happened. It wasn’t totally impossible, because we were very good in 1998 with Adrian Newey’s car, and that’s why it was attractive to any driver. “

So the story was written differently, between Mika Häkkinen’s back-to-back titles with McLaren-Mercedes in 1998 and 1999, and then the five titles Schumacher added before retiring for the first time at the end of 2006, then returning to Mercedes. from 2010 to 2013.

“Michael could have won a [tercer] world title earlier, he could have won in 1999 if he had not had his accident, and we could have won in 2000 if the car had not failed, “concluded Haug.” It was a great period and a very intense fight, the best incarnation of which is the 2000 race at Spa “.

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