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Schumacher Jnr’s F1 debut to evoke wonderful memories of his champion father

The way he had got the drive seemed, at that stage of proceedings, to be the most newsworthy thing about him.

Jordan’s French driver Bertrand Gachot was unable to be in Belgium for one very good reason – he was in prison.

The Frenchman had, six months earlier got into an argument with a London taxi driver and sprayed him with tear gas. When the case finally came to trial he was astonished to be sentenced to nine months (later reduced) which left the Jordan seat vacant.

Schumacher’s management pounced, arranged a test drive in the UK at which Michael impressed and got the seat.

His name might have been unknown before, but after his first day in F1 everyone knew about this young German kid who really had something.

When Schumacher senior strapped in for qualifying he astonished grizzled veterans and starry-eyed fans alike by putting the car seventh on the 30 car (yes, there were far bigger fields in those more simple days) grid.

In the race itself he lasted barely a lap, but not before he had made a sensational getaway, passing Jean Alesi and former world champion Nelson Piquet to get into fifth position. Clutch problems on that opening lap brought his race to a premature end.

Michael Schumacher 20 years ago.

Michael Schumacher 20 years ago.Credit:Reuters

But he had made his mark and all the right people were impressed – none more than the bosses of the Benetton – Ford team, who poached him for the next race, arranging a swap with Jordan for their Brazilian driver Roberto Moreno.

Schumacher finished in the points (fifth) at Monza, cementing a relationship that would culminate in his first two world titles in 1994 and 1995.

Fair to say that I – and a group of Australian-based journalists who first encountered Schumacher at Spa – were never going to forget that meeting.

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