Motorsport News - F1
Michael Schumacher, Wow, I did not even think of getting on the podium
25th June 2012
Michael Schumacher kept his first podium finish since 2006, despite a post-race investigation into the possibility that he had not slowed down for yellow flags during the European Grand Prix in Valencia. I can’t believe it! It’s something I didn't really expect
The veteran racer had driven superbly from 12th on the grid to third and had hailed his best result since first in Shanghai in 2006 as a “deeply enjoyable” moment. However, the celebrations had to be put on hold as the Mercedes driver was summoned before the race stewards over a possible infringement.
After meeting with the seven-time champion and Mercedes’ representatives, though, the stewards were satisfied that data from the car showed the German had slowed significantly in the instance in question and his third place stands.
Schumacher only rose to the podium position in the latter stages of the race after he made a late stop on lap 41 for new soft tyres. Afterwards, as the leaders’ older prime tyres began to lose performance, Schumacher carved his way through the pack.
And when Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado clashed two laps from home, Schumacher suddenly found himself third, though afterwards the Mercedes driver had no idea of his position.
“I didn’t actually think about a podium at all at the end of the race,” he said. “It was crossing the line that I asked my guys ‘where did we finish?’ I saw [Mark] Webber’s pit board, and close to the end it showed him eighth and [then] seventh and I knew I was one place ahead of that. And then boys told me ‘that’s third, that’s podium’.
“I can’t believe it! It’s something I didn't really expect,” he added. “Being pretty heavily involved for most of the race in some kind of battling and then having Webber all the time on my tail and needing to fight forward but needing to pay attention to the back, that was very exciting. But that’s what I’m here for: to be excited and those guys got me excited, no doubt. And hearing finally the message P3 – yeah, that’s a sweet finish.”
Schumacher admitted, too, that he result had only been made possible by a late-race strategy change.
“We obviously had a late decision converting from a one-stop to a two-stop strategy, which meant we had good tyres towards the end of the race,” he said. “Other people either did a one or an early two-stop strategy and therefore struggled by the end because they had no tyres left.
“All weekend, I predicted this to be a difficult one for us and it started to be difficult yesterday in qualifying, mainly because of my own mistakes and to recover from where we are, getting to third position is just awesome,” he concluded. “The team and myself have been criticised here and there, particularly lately, and this is the best way to answer criticism, to go back and deliver as we did today, and therefore I’m proud, thankful and very excited.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg also profited from the strategy and, remarkably, rose from 11th to sixth in the final two laps.
“That was a really exciting race,” he said. “After the restart, I thought I would end up finishing out of the points, because I had the oldest tyres and therefore no grip, which made it very hard to defend. We had planned to try a one-stop strategy but had to convert to two stops, and thanks to the strategy guys, we were on fresh tyres when everybody else was struggling.
“I was in P12 on lap 48 and P6 at the end, so it clearly worked and we are very happy with a good team result after such a chaotic race, with two cars in the top six. A great result for Michael with his podium and I am happy to score some more nice points.”
Schumacher - 3rd
"Wow, I did not even think of getting on the podium for any second in the race today, so what a wonderful result! Finally it happened! After such a long time waiting and for jumping on the podium so unexpectedly, I feel extra happy. I think that was the best answer to give to everybody who started doubting our work: get the car together and fight back; never give up, as anything can happen. A big thank you to the team and to everybody who kept on believing we would get on the podium again. That's what team work is about. A special word for my mechanics and engineers who have done a fantastic job this weekend after some difficult races this year. I didn't think a podium was possible - not even at the end of the race, because it was pretty busy in the last laps and I had lost count of where I was. Then when I crossed the line, I asked the guys where I was and they said "Third - on the podium!" It's one of those moments that you enjoy deeply as a driver. We were close a couple of times but it was great for it to happen in a spectacular race like this, through strategy and lots of passing on a circuit where overtaking is difficult."
Nico Rosberg - 6th
"That was a really exciting race. I had a bad first few laps and lost positions, then the Safety Car came out at a bad moment for me. After the restart, I thought I would end up finishing out of the points, because I had the oldest tyres and therefore no grip, which made it very hard to defend. We had planned to try a one-stop strategy but had to convert to two stops, and thanks to the strategy guys, we were on fresh tyres when everybody else was struggling. I was in P12 on lap 47 and P6 at the end, so it clearly worked and we are very happy with a good team result after such a chaotic race, with two cars in the top six. A great result for Michael with his podium and I am happy to score some more nice points."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"Congratulations to Michael and the team on a fantastic and well-deserved podium finish. Michael demonstrated today that if we can give him the opportunities, he will get a great result. And well done to Nico as well. He was in quite a difficult position at one stage but came back and gave the team a really strong points score today. The early part of the race was quite difficult for us, and our early strategy did not come together as the tyres behaved differently to our pre-race predictions. So we had to react, and we did so extremely well, leaving our stops as late as possible to give our guys fresh rubber at the end. It was such an exciting end to the race, and I am very proud of both of our drivers, everyone here in Valencia, and back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth today."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A marvellous race from Michael with the right speed and the right strategy. Coming from 12th on the grid to third on the podium is a good achievement, which Michael truly deserves and he achieved that with a great drive. Nico started sixth and lost five places during the first lap, which was a big handicap - so to climb back to sixth place was a good recovery. Since his win in China, Nico has scored one point less than Fernando Alonso, who brought home the most points in the last six races. As for the rumour spread by another team that Michael used his DRS flap where he should not have done, I can confirm that this was not the case, as our data proved and the stewards of the meeting confirmed. I am really pleased for Michael and the team. We always believed in each other and today was the first of hopefully more podiums to follow."
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