No fairytale Melbourne F1 return for Schumacher
For the first time since 2006 German great Michael Schumacher returned to Melbourne, but there was no fairytale ending this time for Albert Park’s most successful Formula One driver.
The seven-time world champion found himself off the track at the opening turn of Sunday’s Australian grand prix, caught up in a coming together with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren driver Jenson Button.
Schumacher had to pit and have a front wing replaced following the contact, rejoining the field at the rear off the pack and eventually settling for a 10th place finish.
But the 41-year-old, who has won four times in Melbourne, was philosophical about his time spent battling with unfamiliar names such as Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari and Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi.
“Lots of work for little points but interesting,” Schumacher told reporters.
“Good start, pushed off, lost the front wing and the race was determined from there.
“Just tried to catch up as much as I could, get past some guys with overtaking towards the end and make it worth it.”
Sunday’s result means Schumacher has finished sixth and 10th in his first two races for Mercedes since coming out of retirement for the 2010 season.
In both he has also finished behind young teammate Nico Rosberg, who was fifth on Sunday.
Reigning world champion Button claimed the win from Poland’s Robert Kubica while Australian hopeful Mark Webber had to settle for an ninth-place finish after a late incident with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton.
And while Schumacher wasn’t among those at the front of the pack, he felt the racing at Melbourne had gone a long way to restoring fan’s faith in the category after a dull season opener in Bahrain.
“I’m sure we were able to put on a show for all the fans who were disappointed after the first race,” he said.
“It was good fun (for me) obviously towards the end. It was a little bit hard initially because I got quite a good start and was in a good position and thought it was going to work out well for us but then got hit off.
“For the fans it was a great race after a little bit of criticism, quite rightly, for the first race. But here, today, I think we made up for it a little bit.”© AFP 2013