How do you say goodbye to someone you don’t want to let go of?
I’ve put off writing this for as long as I could—in fact, I’ve considered not writing this at all, but there are those rare moments when I allow my heart to rule my head, and this is one of them, for sure.
The simple fact is that I am a fan of yours—but no, I shan’t be as assumptive nor as bold to declare that I am your “biggest fan” as I am sure there are countless supporters of yours out there who are far worthier of that title than I am—and I just want to tell you that the 19 years that I’ve supported you have been nothing short of incredible. In every sense of the word possible.
People ask me all the time if I support you because you won so much, and while a part of me initially gets annoyed at the thought of being categorized as a mere “bandwagoner”, I get that for so many out there, it’s not an easy task to fully comprehend from as little as a few sentences why one becomes a true-blue, ride-or-die Michael Schumacher fan.
See, I support you because you have this spark, this grand passion, this steely determination and ruthlessness that just won’t quit. You are intelligent, cunning, and controversial. There is no middle ground when it comes to you—you are either loved or despised. You have an unbelievable talent that you pushed to the extreme limit. Your genius lies in never seeking mere adoration or recognition, but the continued hunt for personal challenge and fulfillment. You’re a vanguard. A game-changer.
You gave me a priceless love for Formula One that will remain in my very core forever. You were a part of the myths of my childhood and the reality of my adulthood.
You taught me that self-belief and mental strength is half the battle. You were never perfect, you committed errors and trespasses that will live in infamy but that made you more human to me. You taught me that in order to experience true triumph, one must taste defeat first.
You were an outlet for my emotions—from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, I’ve experienced it vicariously through you.
You never pretended to be fearless nor flawless, but you always dared. And for that, I shall always wear the Schumacher Supporter badge proudly.
When you first left the sport in 2006, I was crushed—I thought the opportunity to see you in person on a race weekend was gone. But still, the flicker of hope in my heart that you will return never died, and you did, and it was one of those days I remember very clearly in my head.
It has always been a dream of mine to meet you in person, but I never thought that moment would arrive in a rather unexpected way.
By the way, how dare you veer away from the scenario of our first meeting in my head? The moment you sauntered out of the Paddock Entrance in Singapore, I was well prepared to be ignored, I was ready to rationalize your aloof behaviour and to simply accept the fact that an icon like you doesn’t always have time for us mere mortals. But there you stood, in front of me, and you were completely nice and sweet and smiling and grounded and accommodating and…normal. You had that aura of being somebody, and yet you were approachable and relatable. Interacting with you up close was so surreal that I almost lost the power of speech. You’ve just effectively raised the bar in meeting celebrities in person, because if the Michael Schumacher is that amazingly kind in person, then I don’t care whoever the hell they are, they have no excuse to be rude or unkind to fans. Ever.
Perhaps someday I can see you again, and maybe then I can finally string together more than a few words and get to talk to you without being so darn star-struck. Forgive me.
But you know what they say, what goes up must come down. I shall not recount anymore the numerous circles of hell I went through once I found out you have formally announced your final retirement from Formula One racing several days after that, but suffice to say that I was heartbroken would be the understatement of the century. It was 2006 all over again, but this time, the finality of it all made it infinitely worse.
And yes, I will accept your decision…in time. You know those stages people go through during trials and tribulations: Denial > Anger > Grief > Acceptance? I never went through anger because honestly, how can I be angry at someone who has given me, and millions of other racing fans, so much? I may be oscillating between denial and grief, still. Allow me to just wallow in sadness for a little while longer, and then I will get my chin up (no pun intended!) and soldier on. But it shan’t be easy, because there is only one you and you are such a special talent that may not be equaled nor surpassed in Formula 1 ever. The fact that the current World Champion took up racing because you have inspired him speaks volumes, doesn’t it? This term is grossly overused in recent times but only a very select few truly deserves it, and you are one of them: Legend.
So go on, Michael, and leave.
Leave us all in wonderment of how one man can create such an indelible and lasting legacy on a sport and in the hearts of millions.
Leave us wanting for more.
I have decided not say goodbye–not yet, because in the grander scheme of things, this is not the end.
I am not certain if you will even get to read my letter, but if you can take away just one thing from all this heartbroken rambling, let it be this:
Thank you, Michael.
Sincerely. From the absolute bottom of my heart and soul.
You are and will always be one of my heroes.
Good Luck and Godspeed.