April 20, 2003, San Marino.
Michael Schumacher was born in 1969 to Rolf and Elisabeth Schumacher. His father was a bricklayer, with a second job as a kart repairer and his mother worked in the canteen of a go-carting circuit. Needless to say, both went out of their way to support Michael’s passion, who from as early as 4 had begun to drive a modified kart (when his father had added a motor to his pedal kart). His parents had a strong influence on his career as well as Ralf’s. His parents separated in 1997.
In 2003, few days before the San Marino Grand Prix, Elisabeth fell at a staircase at her home requiring critical surgery and soon slipped into coma. Michael and Ralf decided to race at San Marino. On Saturday’s qualifying when Michael was asked by the media how could he race despite his mother’s condition he refused to provide a suitable reply. Michael qualified on pole for Sunday’s race, his second pole of the season. Ralf in his Williams was just 14 thousands of a second slower and took second on the grid.
Things took a turn for the worse on Sunday as Elisabeth passed away during the early hours of the morning. Michael and Ralf performed the last rites and rushed back to Imola in a private plan to take part in the Grand Prix. The brothers had decided to take care of business on the track first.
Michael lost the lead to Ralf barely a corner into the race. Rubens was 3rd in the second Ferrari ahead of Ralf’s teammate Montoya. The first few laps of the race witnessed a great battle between the two brothers up ahead with Ralf refusing to let go of the lead. Ralf pitted on Lap 16 and finally, Michael had clean air ahead of him. He made the most of the extra few laps in the race and by the time he pitted, he had a big enough gap to come out on the track ahead of his brother.
Kimi Raikkonen in his McLaren was following a different strategy and was able to leapfrog both Rubens and Ralf for second position. Up ahead, though, Michael won the race by close to 2 seconds over Kimi.
On the podium, though, the atmosphere was totally subdued. Neither of the top three finishers sprayed any Champagne and Michael was in tears as he received the winner’s trophy. Both the brothers immediately departed the circuit and they were excused from their media duties throughout the weekend.
Ferrari team mate Rubens stated that he was not sure if he’d have been in the condition to race under such circumstances, a thought which was echoed by many of the grid. Michael’s decision to race and perform at such an exceptional level despite such difficult circumstances showed the kind of dedication that Michael had towards his craft and the determination he possessed.