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Michael Schumacher once rolled back the years by taking on young Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on his own kart track – only to spin off in wet conditions.
Back in 2001, Schumacher was at the height of his Ferrari fame, having clinched the Italian stable’s first drivers’ title since 1979 the year before. The German great, who was on his way to his fourth F1 title, was almost unbeatable at the time, with his dominance verging on boring, as well as mightily impressive.
Schumacher learnt his trade on the kart track in his family owned in Kerpen, near Cologne. From modest beginnings, it went on to become a widely respected venue.
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So much so, it was approached over hosting the final round of the World Karting Championship round at late notice after the scheduled venue, Suzuka in Japan, was unable to hold the event.
Schumacher was invited as a guest of honour. He gladly accepted, but on one condition – that he got to race in the event itself. Delighted at the publicity his presence would bring, the organisers gave Schumacher the green light, meaning he lined up on the track with some F1 stars of the future, including Hamilton, Rosberg and Vitantonio Liuzzi, who raced for Force India (now Aston Martin).
Technical problems left him down in 16th for the first race, meaning the former Benetton driver would need one of his trademark surges through the field.
Along the way, he battled wheel to wheel with Rosberg, with the commentator highlighting that he was the son of 1982 world champion Keke. However, the broadcaster’s claim that Rosberg’s teammate, Hamilton, was then McLaren boss Ron Dennis’s nephew was wide of the mark.
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After Schumacher had climbed to third, he embarrassingly slid off the track in wet conditions, with his attempts to restart the kart quite literally stalling.
Liuzzi finished fourth to secure the title, with Rosberg fifth and Hamilton seventh in the race. Schumacher did save face in the second and final race of the weekend, finishing third with Rosberg fourth and Hamilton eighth.
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