Michael Schumacher proved greatness with podium finish while car was stuck in one gear

In any Formula 1 race, you would expect a car being stuck in one gear to be fatal to any driver’s chances of crossing the finish line, never mind in the podium places.

Try telling that to Michael Schumacher. After doing exactly that at the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix, even race winner Damon Hill couldn’t help but look at the German dumbstruck by what this young man had managed to accomplish.

Schumacher was not yet a world champion when he rocked up in Catalonia in late May that year. His first title came at the end of that season, and he would add six more to it before retiring – for the second and final time – after the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 25, 2012.

The mood in the F1 paddock was a sombre one, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. Just a few weeks earlier Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger had lost their lives on that ill-fated race weekend at Imola, and in the former’s place at Williams would hand an F1 debut to a young Scot named David Coulthard.

They didn’t know it yet, but everyone present in Barcelona that weekend were about to witness one of the moments that showed Schumacher’s greatness. He stuck his Benetton on pole with a dominant qualifying performance, and quickly pulled away at the start of the race.

But then disaster struck – or so it seemed. During his first pit stop Schumacher had problems with his gearbox and it wasn’t long before it was clear the only gear he could select was fifth. Despite that, he managed to stop and get going again, even though he could not shift down.

Michael Schumacher’s Benetton B194 from the 1994 F1 season(Getty Images)

Schumacher also managed a second pit stop later in the race without blowing up the clutch or stalling his car. Not only that, but he adapted his driving style so that he was able to still put in lap times which were very respectable for a car with every gear available to it – never mind one that could work in fifth gear only.

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