F1 legend Michael Schumacher lost his idol 35 years ago. Schumacher was only 16 years old when Stefan Bellof, whom he greatly admired, died in the Span 1000-kilometer race on September 1, 1985.

The previous weekend, Bellof had still competed in Tyrrell’s car for the F1 race in Zandvoort, the Netherlands.

Bellof’s death at the helm of Group C Porsche at the age of 27 did not come as a huge surprise to those who knew him. The German driver drove in an aggressive style and often took tough risks.

Bellof in battle with Nigel Mansell.

Photo: Sutton Motorsports / MVPhotos / Zuma

- Stefan was not afraid of anything. He did things on the track that other drivers wouldn’t do, Bellof’s rival David Hobbs told The Wall Street Journal years ago.

Today, Bellof is a pretty forgotten driver outside of his native Germany. Many still think he could have become the Formula One world champion.

- Bellof is the greatest talent I've ever seen, triple F1 champion Jackie Stewart said in 1984.

- Stefan was at the same level as the driver as Ayrton Senna, former F1 star Gerhard Berger has judged.

Bellof was nicknamed “King of the Ring”. In May 1983, he drove a 620-horsepower Porsche 956 for a tremendous time trial in the 1,000-kilometer race at the Nürburgring.

Bellof knew excellently the most difficult track in the world, as much as 20.8 miles of Nordschleife, but still everyone was stunned when they heard the lap time: 6.11.13.

Bellof grew up with cars. His father drove a rally and owned a car repair shop in Giessen, about 70 kilometers north of Frankfurt.

Bellof began karting at the age of 13 in 1971, with his big brother Georg. He immediately won the 1980 German Formula Ford Series in his first formula season. Through his home F3 series, Bellof advanced to the F2 level and Porsche became the factory driver for the 1983 World Sports Car Series.

Bellof first tested the F1 in 1983. He got to drive a McLaren in Silverstone.

Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle, who stood out in the British F3 series, also took part in the same test. Bellof tinted at his speed, but it was not possible to get a ride from McLaren. Rothmans, the main sponsor of the Porsche sports car garage, was able to prevent Bellof from driving in an F1 stable backed by another tobacco company.

Tyrrell signed a contract with Bellof for the 1981 F1 season.

Just no one remembers anymore that Bellof drove even harder lap times on Tyrrell-Cosworth than Senna and Prost before the race was suspended in the 31st lap.

Bellof started from the back row from the 20th starting box, but rose to a third with a great ride - and even with a technically obsolete car without a turbo.

- If the race had not been suspended, it would have happened that Senna would have overtaken Prost first and then Bellof would have overtaken them both, team manager Ken Tyrrell later estimated.

However, Bellof, his teammate Brundle and the Tyrrell team lost all of their 1984 World Cup points.

At the wheel of Bellof Tyrrell.

Photo: Sutton Motorsports / MVPhotos / Zuma

After the Detroit race, it was revealed that the water tank in Tyrrelle was filled at the depot with a mixture of water and lead, so the cars could be thought of as underweight. The matter lasted a long time, and eventually Tyrrell was kicked completely out of the races for the rest of the season.

Bellof still stayed with Tyrrell, even though the stable was poor and had to continue with Cosworth's free-breathing engine against the turbo cars.

In the second race of the 1985 season at the Portuguese GP, Bellof rose from wet 21st to sixth in the wet spot.

Bellof was an excellent raincoat driver. He had tinted slippery conditions a year earlier in Monaco and immediately won his first F2 race in rainy Silverstone in 1982.

After Zandvoort's F1 race at the end of August 1985, Bellof's program included the Span's 1,000-kilometer endurance race on a Porsche 956 at Brun Motorsport. His driving pair was Belgian Thierry Boutsen, who drove the F1 series that year at Arrows.

In the 78th round of the race, Bellof fought for the top spot against Jacky Ickx, who rode a factory stable in Porsche. The Belgian overtook Bellof on the descent descending towards Eau Rouge. Bellof tried to clear the bypass immediately, but there was not enough space.

The right front corner of the Bellof car hit the left rear corner of Ickx’s drive as well. Ickx’s car then spun stern above the track’s curb, but Bellof derailed directly on the beak above the railing. Shortly thereafter, Bellofin’s Porsche caught fire.

Bellof suffered severe internal injuries and died in his car. Ickx survived the crash with minor injuries.

Jochen Mass, who took part in the race as Ickx’s driving pair, saw the accident from the pit.

- It was far too optimistic an attempt to bypass, and at that point also dangerous. Ickx can't be blamed for that. The accident went completely to Stefan’s spike, unfortunately, Mass recently reported on the Hessischer Rundfunk website.

Bellof's family initially blamed Ickx strongly for Kolari. Almost everyone else has always been of the opinion that Bellof himself made an error of assessment.

According to the mass, at first it seemed that nothing serious happened in the collision.

- I only saw the whole destruction at the scene of the accident. I thought for a long time that there was a Boutsen in the car because they were driving the same car in a race. I was quite confused when I saw Stefan in the car. I thought it couldn’t be true. German driver again!

Bellof drove Tyrrell in the rain from the tail of the race in third, but later the team results were rejected.

Photo: Sutton Motorsports / MVPhotos / Zuma

The Germans lost two talented drivers in three weeks. In the previous World Championships in sports cars, Manfred Winkelhock had also died at the wheel of a Porsche from head injuries he had suffered in Canada after a violent collision with the edge wall of the Mosport track. That year, Winkelhock competed in the F1 Series with a RAM stable car.

Bellof has lived since 1976 with his girlfriend Angelika Langner. The couple was childless.

After Bellof’s death, the F1 teams tightened their grip on their drivers. The teams began to demand clauses in the contracts that prevented drivers from participating in non-GP races.

Bellof was left in the Grand Prix history as a lost talent who never got to drive a really good F1 car. He drove even better than Senna at times, and his skill was also noticed in large stables.

Ferrari prepared a contract offer for Bellofi for the 1986 season. However, a meeting with Enzo Ferrari was never arranged.

Photo: Sutton Motorsports / MVPhotos / Zuma

Bellof in 1985.

Photo: Sutton Motorsports / MVPhotos / Zuma