Michael Schumacher update as close pal says stricken legend should be STRIPPED of controversial F1 title | The Sun

MICHAEL Schumacher should be stripped of one of his world championships, one of his close friends has said.

Veteran journalist Roger Benoit took aim at the stricken legend's on-track record – despite the two being pals.

Benoit – who reconciled with Schumacher in 2011 after years of feuding- said he believes the ace should lose his 1994 F1 title.

Schumacher currently stands alongside Lewis Hamilton as one of only two seven-time world champions.

They are the joint most successful drivers in the history of F1.

The German won his titles in 94 and 95, before going on an incredible five-year winning streak between 2000 and 2004.


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Schumacher has however not been seen or heard since 2013 after suffering a catastrophic injury during a ski crash.

His family maintains strict privacy around his condition.

But for his pal Benoit, Schumacher's first title is tainted after the racer's infamous crash with Brit rival Damon Hill.

The two came together in the title decider, with Schumacher appearing to veer his Benetton into Hill's chasing Williams.

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Benoit gave a wide-ranging interview about his friend to German publication Blick and insisted on calling him a "six-time champion".

He was often critical of the driver during his career, but the two became pals after Schumacher's return to the sport in 2010s.

"Of course I know that he was world champion seven times. But the 1994 title should actually be taken away from him because he only won it because of his foul on Damon Hill," said Benoit.

But despite this, Benoit still hailed him as one of the "greatest of all time".

"I always had respect for his performance. The way he worked at Ferrari was unique," he said.

"He was regularly in the box until midnight, an unbelievable work attitude. 

"And he still holds the record of 19 podium places in a row to this day."

The two spent years not speaking before they reconciled after a chance meeting in the paddock at the Japanese GP in 2011.

"He walked past me. But after two meters he stopped, came back, hit my knee with his hand and said: 'Let's forget everything that once was. We'll start from the beginning'," said Benoit.

His comments come from ongoing controversy in F1 over retrospective championships.

Schumacher's protege Felipe Massa is launching legal action to attempt to claim the 2008 title from Lewis Hamilton.

Massa believes he was robbed after the "Crashgate" scandal at the Singapore GP that year – something he believes unfairly cost him the title.

And meanwhile, there is ongoing lobbying from fans and controversy over the ending of the 2021 season, where Max Verstappen passed Hamilton on the final lap to win the title.

F1 bosses admitted "human error" meant the rules were not applied in the correct way during a final safety car period – potentially costing Hamilton his eighth world title.

Schumacher's pal Benoit's urging would see Schumacher drop down to six titles – and Hamilton take his place as the singular all-time greatest in terms of stats.

But when asked by  Blick to provide a specific update on Schumacher's health, he refused and said: "No".

"There is only one answer to this question and that is what his son Mick gave in one of his rare interviews in 2022: 'I would give anything to talk to dad'," he went on.

"This sentence says everything about how his father has been doing for over 3,500 days.

"A case without hope."

Following that skiing accident in the French Alps in 2013, Schumacher spent 250 days in a medically-induced coma in hospital.

Even since he was eventually permitted to return home, few have seen or visited him, and reports of the German's condition are extremely rare.

Some friends and even family members have been kept in the dark by those closest to him in an effort to prevent leaks to the press.

Schumacher's son, Mick, continued the family's legacy of F1 drivers when competing for Haas in 2021 and 2022.

He is now a reserve driver for Mercedes.

Schumacher's wife, Corinna, offered a small but powerful update on her husband's health during the 2021 Netflix documentary about the German.

An emotional Corinna said: "Michael is here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find.

"We’re together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable.

"And to simply make him feel our family, our bond. And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will.

"We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives.

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"I have never blamed God for what happened. It was just really bad luck – all the bad luck anyone can have in life.

"It's always terrible when you say, "Why is this happening to Michael or us?" But then why does it happen to other people?"

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