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2010 - 2011

 Return to Formula One

 



Schumacher's first drive of the 2010 Mercedes car – the Mercedes MGP W01 – was at the official test on 2 February 2010 in Valencia. He finished sixth in the first race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix. A fortnight later at the Australian Grand Prix Schumacher, after running as high as third on the opening lap, was caught up in a tangle between Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button at the start and had to pit for a new front wing.

He came from the back to finish in the points in tenth position after spending 20 laps behind Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari. In the Malaysian Grand Prix Schumacher retired early in the race with a faulty wheel nut. Schumacher qualified 9th in the Chinese Grand Prix and finished 10th after being passed by several other drivers in the wet conditions towards the end of the race. After the race former driver Stirling Moss suggested that Schumacher, who had finished behind his team-mate in each of the first four qualifying sessions and races, might be "past it." Many other respected former Formula One drivers thought otherwise, including former rival Damon Hill, who warned "you should never write Schumacher off." GrandPrix.com identified the inherent understeer of the Mercedes car, exacerbated by the narrower front tyres introduced for the 2010 season, as contributing to Schumacher's difficulties. Jenson Button shed some more light on Schumacher's car trouble when he confessed that the Mercedes 2010 car was designed for him, and that his driving style is poles apart from Schumacher.

 


For the first European race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes upgraded their car with revised aerodynamics and a longer wheelbase. Schumacher was ahead of Rosberg in qualifying and the race finishing fourth after defending his position from reigning world champion Jenson Button after the pit stops. At the Monaco Grand Prix Schumacher qualified seventh and finished sixth after passing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on the final corner of the race when the safety car returned to the pits. However he was penalised 20 seconds after the race by the race stewards dropping him to 12th and thus out of the points. The stewards, advised by former world champion Damon Hill, judged the pass to be in breach of rule 40.13 of the sporting code stating that "If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking." Mercedes GP had interpreted "the race control messages 'Safety Car in this lap' and 'Track Clear' and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one" to mean that the race would not finish under the safety car. The FIA subsequently outlined plans to clarify the regulations and Mercedes GP dropped their plans to appeal.



In Turkey, Schumacher had his best qualifying session since his return qualifying fifth ahead of team mate Rosberg in sixth. In the race Schumacher finished fourth which was his best race finish since his return. However 2 races later at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Schumacher finished a lowly 15th – his lowest recorded finish in his career – after being caught up in a controversial safety-car ruling, which also ruined the race of Fernando Alonso. Schumacher was near the front of the field until he was stuck at the end of the pit lane, following the safety car, while the majority of the field passed him. In Hungary, Schumacher finished outside the points in eleventh, but was found guilty of dangerous driving at 180 mph (290 km/h) while unsuccessfully defending tenth position against Rubens Barrichello. As a result he was demoted ten places on the grid for the following race, the Belgian Grand Prix, where he finished seventh, despite starting 21st after his grid penalty.

 

 



In the Italian Grand Prix, Schumacher missed out on the top ten in qualifying but managed to finish ninth. A fortnight later at the Singapore Grand Prix, Schumacher finished 13th after the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld collided with him on Lap 36, knocking Heidfeld out of the race. At the Japanese Grand Prix, Schumacher finished sixth before a fourth and seventh in the next two races in Korea and Brazil. At the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Schumacher was involved in a major accident on the first lap, which occurred after Schumacher was spun around by his teammate Nico Rosberg. As Schumacher was trying to maneuver his car back around, Vitantonio Liuzzi's Force India ploughed into his Mercedes head-on, barely missing his head. Nobody was hurt in the crash, but Schumacher said the crash had been "frightening."



It was the first season since his début season in 1991 that Schumacher finished without a win, pole position, podium or fastest lap. He finished the season 9th with 72 points.

At the 2011 Wroom meeting in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, Fernando Alonso, the second most successful Formula One driver still racing, said of Schumacher: "He will be always super class; if the car is right, he will be a contender that we will fear most."

 

 

2011


After an unsuccessful Australian Grand Prix, where he retired due to puncture damage, Schumacher had an average race in Malaysia, finishing in ninth place to score his team's only points, generally battling it out with the midfield of the pack but ahead of team mate Rosberg, who finished 12th. A problem with his movable rear wing, also known as the drag reduction system resulted in Schumacher qualifying only 14th in China, but he worked his way up to 8th place during the race. He added more points with sixth place in Spain, and at the Canadian Grand Prix, Schumacher had arguably his best performance since returning from retirement.

 

He finished in fourth position, but ran as high as second in a race which was almost entirely contested in wet conditions. Schumacher was passed late in the race by both Jenson Button, who went on to win the race, and Mark Webber, by the use of the DRS.




In Valencia, he crashed into the side of Vitaly Petrov's Renault while exiting the pit lane, breaking his own front wing, meaning he had to pit again the following lap. This incident left him outside of the points, and eventually finished 17th. In Britain Schumacher locked his front tyres while running behind Kamui Kobayashi, attempted to take avoiding action, and again broke his front wing spinning Kobayashi 180 degrees. As well as pitting to replace the wing, Schumacher served a 10 second stop-go penalty for the incident. Although working his way up to ninth, Schumacher was unhappy with the result and described the Kobayashi incident as his misjudgement. He finished eighth at his home race in Germany, and retired in Hungary with gearbox failure.



Schumacher marked the 20th anniversary of his Formula One début at the Belgian Grand Prix. He set the fastest time in the first free practice session, but after a wheel came loose in qualifying, he had start last on the grid. Despite this, Schumacher put in a very strong performance, ending the race in fifth place and ahead of his team mate Rosberg.

 

 

 

Schumacher continued his run of form at the Italian Grand Prix, qualifying eighth and finishing fifth. This race saw a notable duel with Lewis Hamilton for fourth place. Schumacher defended expertly against Hamilton's faster car, but was also criticised for leaving insufficient overtaking space. After a retirement in Singapore due to contact with Sergio Pérez, Schumacher finished in sixth place at the Japanese Grand Prix, having led three laps during the race, the first time he had led a race since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. In doing so, he became the oldest driver to lead a race since Jack Brabham in 1970.



In Korea, Schumacher started the race from twelfth, and was well within the points scoring positions when he was hit from behind by Vitaly Petrov, forcing both drivers to retire. In India, Schumacher struggled in qualifying and qualified twelfth, although he moved up to eleventh after Petrov was given a five-place grid penalty for the incident in Korea; Schumacher blamed his lack of pace on tyre vibrations he experienced on his final run.[citation needed] After making up three places on the opening lap, Schumacher remained in the top ten for the entire race, eventually finishing fifth, ahead of team-mate Rosberg after overtaking him during the final round of pit-stops. At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Schumacher qualified eighth and had moved up to sixth after a few corners. He was ahead of Rosberg, and the pair battled over the position for the remainder of the first lap. Rosberg's overtake eventually meant that he finished in sixth and Schumacher in seventh. Schumacher finished the season with a fifteenth place at the season finale at the Brazilian Grand Prix, following a collision early in the race with Bruno Senna which had forced him to pit for repairs. Schumacher finished the season in eighth place in the Drivers' Championship standings with 76 points; his best result was fourth place at the Canadian Grand Prix.

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