Michael Schumacher remains, in the opinion of many, the greatest F1 driver in the history of the sport.
The German icon amassed an incredible seven driver’s titles – two with Benetton and five with Ferrari – and 91 race wins, a tally only surpassed in recent years by Lewis Hamilton. But Schumacher wasn’t the only talented racer in the family, with brother Ralf also enjoying a respectable F1 career with Jordan, Williams and Toyota, winning six Grand Prix, all with Williams.
Ralf joined the F1 grid with Jordan in 1997 and the brothers were inseparable during their early years of competing together at the highest level of motorsport. However, their relationship soured for a period due to differences between their respective wives, Corinna, Michael’s partner, and Cora, Ralf’s other half.
Quoted in the Edge of Greatness – a book about Michael written by James Allen, published in 2007 – Michael’s former manager Sabine Kehm said: “Their [Michael and Ralf’s] relationship got worse in the last two or three years. They’ve grown apart. It’s a very natural thing. Ralf has his family in Austria, Michael has his family in Switzerland.
“They used to meet at the track but now there is the whole wives situation and, of course, Michael defends Corinna and Ralf defends Cora, so they have their differences there.”
While Corinna avoided the celebrity spotlight, Cora activity embraced it and had a dig at her sister-in-law during an interview with a German magazine during the 2000s.
“Corinna and I have little contact,” she said. “We holiday in different places, we hardly phone, we live somewhere else. A pity really, as we both have children. But Corinna’s nature and mine are totally different.
“I am a sincere, cosmopolitan woman. Not the sort who puts on an act or parades the fact that she is Mother Teresa. My sister-in-law is stuck with the label of being the ‘perfect’ wife in the ‘perfect’ world and that sort of thing.
“This is an image which Michael and Corinna have built up their whole life, the ranch, the family. And then there’s me who’s put in a different category. It’s written that ‘Cora’s thong is sticking out of her trousers’, so I have to take care not to be photographed from behind.”
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Meanwhile, Michael’s support network declined to engage in any kind of war of words. Sabine Kehm explained: “The German media have Cora’s mobile number and Ralf’s mobile too so they are easy to get. The media wanted a response from us, but we always said nothing.
“I told Michael and Corinna, ‘If you react now, they will use that again and again.’ He stayed strong and we always stuck with that. The tabloids went crazy because we did not play their game. But privacy was very important to Michael.
“If he felt that the media was in his home as well he would not be able to deal with it. He needs his home as a refuge. Now he is retired he will try to stay out of the public eye for the rest of his life.”
Following his devastating skiing accident in 2013, Michael’s health status continues to be a closely guarded secret. Ralf, who divorced Cora in 2015 after 14 years of marriage, is a commentator on Sky Sports’ F1 coverage in Germany.
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