Fastest Laps: 1
Ironically, the year in which Michael Schumacher was forced out of F1 for a second time was probably his best since returning from retirement in 2010. Equally ironic was the fact that Mercedes probably produced its least competitive car in that period, despite team-mate Nico Rosberg winning in China. The W03’s innovative front wing stalling device eventually proved as obstructive in terms of development at Lotus’ forward-facing exhausts in 2011, and the Silver Arrows faded badly in the second half of the year. Schumacher was also blighted by DNFs, both of his own making and the car’s unreliability, but he bounced back from three straight retirements to claim the first podium of his comeback in Valencia, where he joined Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in the top three. That was to be the high point of his year, unless you count the Monaco pole that was denied him by a pre-session grid penalty. Given the confines of the Principality, could win number 92 have been a possibility? Stalling of another sort ultimately proved Schumacher’s undoing, as waiting on a contract extension mid-season gave Mercedes the opportunity to chase Lewis Hamilton and, when the Briton agreed terms, the sport’s most successful driver again found himself out of a job.