Brilliant drive from Schumacher at 20th anniversary weekend
Michael Schumacher came from the back of the field to finish in fifth place at the Belgian Grand Prix today on the weekend that marked the 20th anniversary of his Formula One debut at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Nico Rosberg finished in sixth place, after an exceptional start which saw him go from fifth on the grid to leading the race at the end of the first lap.
Michael Schumacher: "A wonderful ending to a wonderful weekend here in Spa. I think more than fifth place would not have been possible today but making up 19 places was a good feeling. With all my family, friends and fans here, it was an extra motivation, and I would like to thank all of them for their support. They saw an exciting race with a great strategy from our team. So all in all, for me, there was a lot of emotion and a lot of overtaking today. At the beginning I was a bit afraid that some of the flying parts might hit and damage my car, but I was lucky that nothing happened. After that, I had big fun hunting and making my way forward."
Nico Rosberg: "I had a great start today and it was a special feeling to be leading the race in a Silver Arrow at this amazing circuit. It was great to see the traffic jam behind me with the Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari cars, but it was hard to realise that we just don't have the pace to stay at the top. However we have made progress this weekend and today was a good result for the team. I had to push quite hard at the start and in the middle which cost me a little towards the end, which combined with Michael being on the faster soft tyres, meant that I wasn't able to keep him behind me. Now I'm looking forward to Monza and I'm confident that we can improve further."
Ross Brawn: "It was a very exciting race for us and nice to remember what it's like to be at the front again, after Nico's excellent start and early laps in the lead. Both drivers did a great job this afternoon on quite different strategies. Michael began the race on the medium tyre and got that stint of his race out of the way quickly by stopping on lap four and changing to the soft compound. The Safety Car then worked in his favour by allowing him to catch up to the cars in front, and he was obviously on the better tyre in the final laps when he was catching Nico. It's a very nice result for him on this anniversary weekend, and especially after starting from dead last. Nico ran a two-stop strategy and, although it was a little marginal with tyre performance at times, he drove an excellent race to sixth place. Towards the end, we told him to trim his fuel: although we had a Safety Car period, one doesn't use this to save fuel under the current rules because any fuel saved is simply extra weight carried through the rest of the race, and at that point his fuel consumption was on target. In any case, it didn't cost him a significant amount of lap time, and the decisive factor was that Michael was on the soft tyre at the end while Nico was on the medium, which was around a second a lap slower. Overall, it was a very good team result and our best points score of the season so far."
Norbert Haug: "A great race from Michael at his 20th anniversary here in Spa. Coming from last to fifth place is excellent and well deserved. Michael drove impeccably and the team had a great strategy in starting with the slower medium tyres to get them out of the way at an early stage. Being in a position to use the softs during his last stint, whilst Nico was on mediums, was crucial for the outcome of their races. Nico had a great start and was leading for a couple of laps but of course the speed of our current package is still not good enough to stay at the top of the field. A satisfying result for the team after the summer break; well done guys. We will try very hard in a fortnight in Monza."