Michael Schumacher has said he had 'big fun' battling with Lewis Hamilton in the F1 2011 Italian Grand Prix, even if he did have to make his Mercedes 'as wide as a truck' to hold off the McLaren.
Schumacher kept Hamilton behind him for what seemed like an age and while he conceded 'we are both known for driving on the limit, and that is what we did', the German finally had to admit defeat just after the halfway point. He eventually finished in fifth place, just like he did in Belgium two weeks ago.
“It was an exciting race today, both for me and I think for all of our fans, and that is why I am happy. The fighting against Lewis was big fun, and my mirrors seemed to be very small at times,” Schumacher reflected. “We are both known for driving on the limit, and that is what we did. I had to make my car as wide as a truck, and had to stretch the possible as much as I could, but in the end, as expected, he was still faster.
“The start was ideal, I held back on purpose at first in order to use the grip perfectly afterwards, and then the left side was all free. To make the most of your possibilities, you have to do the maximum possible at times, and that is why I had fun today, especially knowing that there is more to come in the future, with all the support we have from Mercedes.”
Mercedes team principal, Ross Brawn and Mercedes boss, Norbert Haug meanwhile both hailed Schumacher's performance, although his battle with Hamilton wasn't without controversy.
Indeed at one point Schumacher forced Hamilton onto the grass and on another occasion he swerved twice to defend his position - something that is against the rules, as only one move is permitted. However while Brawn did have to warn Schumacher over the radio about his driving and conceded post-race that the FIA had told them to be 'careful', the 42-year-old was not summoned to appear before the stewards.
“A fantastic drive from Michael today, and I'm sure he really enjoyed his racing out there,” Brawn continued. “The boys have done a great job with our starts this year, and Michael was able to get away well and show his race craft in the first part of the race.
“Then he settled into a really tough battle with the McLarens, particularly Lewis, which was great racing and vintage Michael. We haven't quite got a car that's quick enough yet but we are all pleased with Michael's fifth place.”
“A thrilling drive from Michael again today,” Haug added, “the first half of the race delivered probably one of the best television shows of the year and I am sure lots of people at home were standing rather than sitting in front of their televisions, which was the case for us on several occasions today.
“Michael repeated his Spa result today and everybody realised during his drive how committed and hard-fighting he is - it was a joy to watch, and certainly not just for us.”
To read Hamilton and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh's takes on the battle, click here