Early life and career
Schumacher was born in Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany on 30 June 1975, the second son of Rolf Schumacher, a bricklayer, and his wife Elisabeth. He has one older brother, Michael. Schumacher began karting at the age of three driving on his parent's go-kart track in Kerpen. His first major karting success came when he clinched the NRW Cup and the Gold Cup in 1991. In 1992 he won the German Junior Kart Championship. He then moved up into the senior series, finishing runner-up.
Aged 17 Schumacher moved into car racing, finishing runner-up in the ADAC Junior Formula Championship. This performance allowed Schumacher to test a Formula Three car during 1992, and later took part in a Formula Three event. His testing and one-off appearance in the series caught the attention of WTS Racing allowing Schumacher to enter the German Formula Three Championship in 1994, where he finished third. He finished fourth and thirtieth in the Macau Grand Prix and the Masters of Formula 3, respectively.
His performances in 1995 had improved over the previous year: Schumacher secured pole position and victory in the Macau Grand Prix and finished second in the Masters of Formula 3. In the German Formula Three series, Schumacher took three victories and finished second in the Championship behind Norberto Fontana.
For 1996, Schumacher's manager Willi Weber secured him a seat in the Formula Nippon Series, driving for the Team Le Mans alongside experienced driver Naoki Hattori. Schumacher won the series on his first attempt, becoming the first rookie driver to clinch the championship. In the same year, Schumacher and Hattori entered the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, winning four races and taking the runner-up spot in the GT500 Championship behind the pairing of David Brabham and John Nielsen.