Mercedes and Schumacher thrilled with podium place at Valencia
By Berthold Bouman
Mercedes and Michael Schumacher were quite happy with third place and the first podium place of the seven-times World Champion after his return to Formula One in 2010. During a chaotic race at the Valencia street circuit during the European Grand Prix, Schumacher made good use of his experience and took his 155th podium place after starting the race from 12th position on the grid.
Schumacher was on a two-stop strategy, he started the race on a set of new medium tyres, changed to a set of new softs on lap 19, and on lap 41 pitted for a set of used softs. “I didn’t actually think about a podium at all at the end of the race,” said a happy Schumacher.
“It was crossing the line that I asked my guys ‘where did we finish?’ I saw Webber’s pit board and close to the end it showed him eighth and seventh and I knew I was one place ahead of that one. And then boys told me ‘that’s third, that’s podium’. I can’t believe that! It’s one of those moments that you enjoy deeply as a driver,” he said during the post-race press conference.
“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,” said Schumacher.
Tyres were again the key to success according to Schumacher, “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, when other people either did a one or an early two-stop strategy and therefore struggled by the end because they had no tyres left.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn was proud of his driver, “Michael demonstrated today that if we can give him the opportunities, he will get a great result. About the change of strategy he commented, “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.”
Mercedes boss Norbert Haug was also impressed, “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.”
Schumacher’s third place moved him up to 13th place in the Drivers’ Championship. Just for a moment the FIA threatened to spoil the fun for Schumacher, as they announced they were investigating reports the German had used his DRS in a zone where double yellow flags were being waved.
This allegedly happened during the last lap at the spot where Lewis Hamilton had crashed after his accident with Pastor Maldonado, but the Stewards deemed it was not necessary to take further action.
A FIA statement read, “Having examined telemetry and video evidence, and heard from the driver and team representatives, the Stewards noted that the driver did make a significant reduction in speed on entering the double waved flag zone.”