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Michael Schumacher registered his best finish since his comeback to the sport, snatching the final spot on the podium in Valencia with a strong drive at the European Grand Prix. His third place finish today was his first podium since the Chinese Grand Prix of 2006. It was a welcome return to the podium for the 7 time world champion, who has encountered more than his fair share of bad luck during the races so far this season. His teammate made it good points haul for the Mercedes team as Nico Rosberg drove a series of quick laps towards the end of the race to snatch a strong 6th place on the line from Paul di Resta in the Force India.
The leading Mercedes of Nico Rosberg had a bitterly disappointing qualifying session as he could only manage 6th place on the grid. Rosberg claimed Hamilton had impeded his final run in Q3 and was fuming with the stewards' decision to let the Briton go scot-free. Michael Schumacher did not make it into Q3 and qualified his Mercedes in a humble 12th place. The lap times were incredibly close though as Schumacher missed the cut into Q3 only by a scant 0.068 s.
The Mercedes team had a dismal start to proceedings on Sunday as Rosberg lost places to fall out of the points scoring positions to be 11th by lap 2. His teammate could not gain places either and was running in 13th place. The Achilles heel of the Mercedes team was exposed as the team could not get both cars to work under high temperatures. The Mercedes duo delayed their pit stops but with tyre degradation at a maximum, the Germans were easily pushed down by the cars on fresher tyres. After the pit stops Rosberg has made his way into the points, grabbing on to 10th place. A series of retirements up front saved the weekend for the team as both drivers found grip towards the last 20 laps of the race.
Schumacher performed a series of overtaking moves to be running in 10th place, with Rosberg pitting towards the latter stages of the race to switch to the soft tyres. This dropped the young German to 12th place with a mountain to climb to manage a point scoring return.
Rosberg was on the money immediately to take hold of 11th place from the Williams of Bruno Senna. Schumacher demonstrated lightning quick pace to climb to 7th place after getting past the Sauber of Sergio Perez. The 7 time champion blew the Force India of Di Resta away to snatch 6th place. Schumacher managed a 3rd place finish as a late collision between Hamilton and Maldonado aided the Mercedes driver to finish on the last step on the podium. Rosberg also moved up to 6th place after an excellent late run.
Schumacher was clearly delighted with his race performance, and shared, "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."
The legendary driver continued, "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."
Ross Brawn chipped in, "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."
- 24/06/2012 19:50 - Vettel's race wrecked by Engine blow, Webber displays steely resolve to finish 4th in Valencia
- 24/06/2012 19:19 - European Grand Prix: Alonso stuns with victory; Raikkonen, Schumacher complete star studded podium
- 24/06/2012 18:04 - Alonso picks up memorable win in Valencia, Massa disappoints again