On 5 December 2006, the Municipality of Maranello conferred the Freedom of the Town on German driver and multiple world championship winner Michael Schumacher.
As well as the symbolic key to the town, the German driver was also presented with a specially produced bronze bell engraved with his wins for Ferrari from 1996 to 2006 (traditionally, Maranello greets the Prancing Horse’s victories by ringing the bells of the parish church of San Biagio). It was a formal acknowledgement, on behalf of all the people of Maranello, of the champion’s splendid sporting achievements in the previous ten years.
“With his racing career at Ferrari, Michael Schumacher has shared a major slice of history with Maranello,” reads the resolution approved by the Town Council, which voted unanimously to award the freedom of the town. “Now, concluding an incredible series of victories, Maranello wishes to thank him by presenting him with the keys to the town. This is not a mere formal gesture; it reflects the shared feeling of the townspeople, who have long considered “Schumi” to be a very special member of our community. A man whose personality and love of a job well done strike a chord with our own ethos. Michael Schumacher’s eleven years at Ferrari have coincided not only with the racing team’s return to success at the highest levels of Formula 1 racing, but also with the completion of a business plan which has marked Ferrari’s recovery from its economic difficulties of the early ‘90s. His racing victories have given our town immense visibility and helped to drive local businesses based on and around tourism, and above all they have supported the relaunch of Ferrari’s industrial operations. A company of national importance, Ferrari is a major factor for Maranello’s community and for the local economy, providing jobs for many resident households not only in the factory but also in the supply chain and service sectors. The prominence Michael Schumacher has achieved for Ferrari has been decisive in making Maranello a tourist destination for visitors from Italy and abroad.”
Michael Schumacher holds most of the Formula 1 records, having achieved, apart from his world titles, the largest number of Grand Prix wins, of Fastest Laps during races, and of hat tricks (pole position, race win and fastest lap in the same event). Until 13 October 2013, he held the absolute record for career points total. He also held the record for number of poles position (68) from 2006 to 2017, was the first German to become Formula 1 world champion, and enjoyed the status of most popular Formula 1 icon until 2006, according to a FIA survey. In October 2003 he broke Juan Manuel Fangio’s record for the number of Formula 1 titles, and in 2004 he set an even higher record by winning his fifth consecutive world championship. He retired from Formula 1 at the end of 2012.