Michael Schumacher has said he feels 'extra happy' after taking an 'unexpected' podium finish in Valencia.
Schumacher has had a frustrating season, with five retirements in the first seven races, but bounced back in the European Grand Prix, the eighth round in the 2012 F1 World Championship, and eventually brought his Mercedes F1 W03 home in third.
It was a special result for the seven-time F1 world champion as it marked the first time he has stood on the rostrum since opting to come out of retirement and return to F1 with Mercedes back in 2010. His last top-three result came back in China in 2006.
“I didn't actually think about a podium at all in the race,” Schumacher revealed. “It was only crossing the line that I asked my guys 'where did we finish?' I saw [Mark] 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 something I didn't really expect. You sort of lose count, because I was pretty busy in the last stages of the race.”
Asked if it is moments like these that brought him back to the sport, Schumacher said that is definitely the case.
“It's just a wonderful feeling to back after such a long time. We were a couple of times close to it. But it happened in a pretty spectacular way today and on a track where it is difficult to pass,” he continued.
“But due to various strategies and differences on track it was pretty exciting and that's obviously the best way, if you manage the way I did today to jump onto the podium unexpectedly, it makes you extra happy.”
So is the feeling what he expected?
“I don't know what I mentioned or didn't mention but the point is that it is a beautiful feeling, not only being on the podium but the way it has happened,” he added.
“It was not at all expected. All weekend, I predicted this to be a difficult one for us and it started to be difficult yesterday in qualifying, mainly because of my own mistakes and to recover from where we are, getting to third position is just awesome.
"The team and myself have been criticised here and there, particularly lately, and this is the best way to answer criticism, to go back and deliver as we did today, and therefore I'm proud, thankful and very excited.”