Michael Schumacher delighted his fans by coming through from the back of the field to finish fifth in Belgium today.
It was a top performance from the 42-year-old on the 20th anniversary of his F1 debut at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit and will go some way to silencing the critics that have suggested he should hang up his helmet at the end of the year.
Schumacher made a strong start to the race and immediately came through the first corner mayhem to be running in 15th. Then two laps from the end he completed his fightback by passing his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg for fifth, a position he held all the way to the flag.
“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,” Schumacher said. “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.”
Rosberg also enjoyed a very strong afternoon in the sister car and following a great start from fifth, he actually finished the opening lap in the lead. Although he dropped back and was passed by Sebastian Vettel on lap 3, he was still pleased to come home and score for the fifth race in succession.
“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,” he added. “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.”
“A great race from Michael at his 20th anniversary here in Spa,” summarised Mercedes boss, Norbert Haug. “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. We will now try very hard in a fortnight in Monza.”