Michael Schumacher had doubts whether he could race on without fear following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.
The seven-time world champion was behind Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix when the Brazilian crashed at over 130mph at the Tamburello corner which claimed his life at the age of 34.
At the time Senna was revered as the greatest driver in the sport and his death had a profound impact on Schumacher, who looked like he was on course for a titanic scrap with the Brazilian for that year’s championship.
Michael Schumacher (third from right) feared for his own life after the death of Ayrton Senna
Senna (pictured) and Schumacher were set to have a titanic battle for the 1994 F1 world title
However, the legendary Brazilian died after crashing out at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix
Netflix has released the documentary ‘Schumacher’, which features an interview early in the German’s career where he talks about how Senna’s crash impacted him.
He said: ‘It was two hours after the race where (engineering director) Mr (Tom) Walkinshaw came up to me after the race and said it’s looking very bad. I said “no he’s in a coma but a coma doesn’t mean anything bad”. He said “no it doesn’t look too good”. And then someone came to me later and said “he’s dead”.
‘I still didn’t believe he’d be dead, I couldn’t think of that. That point I was like “no, he’s going to be the champion”. He maybe misses one or two races and then comes back again. The worst was really the two weeks after this as I had to accept he was dead.’
When asked whether it was ‘easy to drive again’ following the death of the Williams driver he added: ‘Silverstone, I went there (afterwards) and suddenly you see things with different eyes.
Schumacher won the championship that year after a controversial collision with Damon Hill
‘I went through Silverstone in a road car and just thought “this is a point you could be dead, this is another point you could be dead”.
‘I thought “crazy, you always raced here but there are so many points you can crash and you can be immediately dead” – that was the only thing I was thinking of.
‘I didn’t know what was going to be the situation if I was going to be in the race car.
‘I wasn’t sure can I drive without thinking that or I’m going to drive now always thinking “now you can be dead here, if you go off here it’s going to be bad” and that was something very strange.
‘I wake up during the night and I’d sleep maybe three hours a night things like this.’
The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is remembered as one of the most tragic weekends in the sport’s history with fellow driver Roland Ratzenberger also dying in a crash the day before Senna.
Netflix has released a documentary giving an intimate portrait of Schumacher’s life
It includes unseen footage and interviews with his family as well as other racing drivers
Schumacher did carry on and he won his first championship that year while driving for Benetton in dramatic circumstances after colliding with Senna’s team-mate and title rival Damon Hill in the decider at Adelaide.
Before Senna’s death, there had been some ‘friction’ between the three-time champion and Schumacher.
The documentary shows Senna lecturing Schumacher after the pair collided during the 1992 French Grand Prix.
Ross Brawn, who worked with Schumacher at Benetton and Ferrari, said: ‘I don’t think Michael set out to try and upset him (Senna).
‘I think Michael was racing him the same way as he was racing everyone else, as he should have done.
There had been some friction between Schumacher and Senna early in the German’s career
‘It caused some friction. Ayrton tried to put Michael in his place a few times on the track, which upset Michael.
‘I think that was equally respectful so they were a bit fractious in that early period.’
The documentary later showed Schumacher crying during a post-race conference after he was told he had matched Senna’s 41 career wins after the 2000 Italian Grand Prix.
‘Schumacher’ the documentary was released by Netflix on Wednesday and shows an intimate portrait of his life, including events during his career and interviews with family members and fellow drivers.
It also features interviews with his family on the events of his tragic skiing accident in 2013 that left him with severe head injuries, which he is still recovering from to this day. His exact condition is a closely-guarded secret, but his brain injury was nearly fatal and has been severely life-altering.
His wife Corinna said: ‘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?
‘Of course I miss Michael every day but it’s not just me who misses him – the children, the family, his father, everyone around him. I mean everybody misses Michael but Michael is here. Different but he’s here and that gives us strength I find.
Schumacher went on to win seven championships during a legendary career in the sport
‘We’re together, we live 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’re trying to carry on as a family the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. “Private is private” as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us now we are protecting Michael.
His son Mick Schumacher, who made his debut with the Haas team this season, said: ‘Since the accident of course, these experiences, these moments that I believe many have with their present are no longer present or to a lesser extent.
‘I believe that is a little unfair. I think dad and me would understand each other in a different way as we would understand each other through the language of motorsport.
‘And that we would have much more to talk about. And that’s where my head is most of the time. Thinking that would be so cool. I would give up everything just for that.’
His wife Corinna said that ‘everyone misses Michael’ and the family have done therapy