After winning 17 races in 1994 and 1995 and two Formula 1 championships with Benetton, Michael Schumacher moved to the Scuderia Ferrari in 1996, looking to put the squad at the top of motor racing again.
Ferrari’s return to power had already started in the previous seasons, with legendary team boss Jean Todt having joined the team in 1994.
Schumacher’s start with Ferrari was difficult, as the team’s F310 car wasn’t exactly the class of the field.
The German retired from his first race with the team, the 1996 Australian Grand Prix, but a third-place finish at Brazil gave the team some hope for the rest of the year. The following four races included two second-places, two Pole Positions and two retirements, including a crash in the early stages of the Monaco Grand Prix, one he started on Pole.
The following race, the seventh of the 1996 World Championship, was the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona on June 2nd, 1996.
In the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix, Schumacher took his first win for Ferrari, in what many regard as one of his finest wins. In the torrential rain, he produced a stunning drive to take the win. Cementing the nickname he earned of “Regenmeister” (Rainmaster) 🌧️#Michael50 pic.twitter.com/aTDg315Zaa
— Motorsport Images (@MSI_Images) January 3, 2019
Torrential rain came down but the race still went on. Schumacher started the event in third place and had a bad start, but he quickly recovered and was leading the race on lap 13.
Schumacher wouldn’t look back and put up a dominant performance in the wet, winning the race (his 20th in F1) and his first with the Scuderia Ferrari.
He finished 45 seconds ahead of second-placed Jean Alesi (Benetton) and 48 seconds ahead of Jacques Villeneuve (Williams), who was third.
Schumacher lapped every car which finished out of the podium places.
He would go on to win five championships with Ferrari (2000-2004) and 72 races, which is the second-most wins any driver has taken for a single team (Sir Lewis Hamilton has won 82 with Mercedes).