As stated by many pundits, Michael’s 2003 title was the best of the 7 he collected over his career. The reasons for this are multiple. This was the first time that Michael had won a tight race for the championship since his first win with Benetton in 1994 which too was marred by accusations of purposefully taking out Hill.
Also, this was the year that practically ended the domination of Ferrari. For much of the season, the car had a significant performance disadvantage due to the Bridgestone tires. The Michelin powered Williams and McLaren had a significant edge over the Ferrari. 2003 was also the year that a certain driver by the name of Fernando Alonso rose to prominence.
To add on; for the first time in his career, Michael made glaring mistakes. The first three races of the season when Ferrari still had an advantage over the other cars saw Michael make mistakes which squandered any early lead that Ferrari might have made into the championship. At 34, perhaps age was beginning to catch up with Michael. But to his credit, Schumi hung in there. It took him half way into the season to lead the championship for the first time. In a season where none of the drivers really grabbed the brass ceiling, Michael did enough. Disappointing results and retirements were hidden by 6 wins which were 4 more than any other driver managed.
It was only fitting that triumph in such a title race resulted in what had eluded all F1 drivers so far, a record 6th World Championship. Juan Manuel Fangio had dominated the 1st decade of Formula 1 racing, and he had won 5 championships – the last one of them being in 1957. Effectively, Michael had broken a 46-year-old record and now was in a league of his own.
There were cynics out there who had tried their best to discredit Michael from his achievements throughout his career. They often argued that Michael never knew where to draw the line between fierce competition and unsportsmanlike conduct. Another point of contention was that Michael, during his domination with Ferrari, had tires practically build for his style of racing.
However, they all had to take a back seat now. Statistically, Michael was now beyond any debates. He was the greatest of all times having broken yet another record, and this time perhaps the most important of the lot.