Tag Archives: Michael Schumacher

Schumacher will always be remembered as F1’s most elite driver

As I said in the previous article, Michael Schumacher was a huge inspiration for me, and single-handedly got me interested in Formula 1. However, as I got older, I started to notice the darker side behind the legend, and wondered whether my faith in him was justified.

Hundreds of hours on YouTube later, the picture was more clear. Schumacher was fast – no doubt about that – but there was a vicious side to him, where he would strike out at those who impeded him, sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally.

So do we remember him as an erratic, dangerous driver who would take out another driver just to gain a place? Some people certainly have.

I would argue against that though. A look through the history books will show you that Michael was incredibly fast from the moment he entered the sport. Starting an incredible 7th on the grid, the young German instantly took the sport by storm, soon generating huge support that lasts to this very day.

A man of this skill cannot be remembered for several clashes across a 19-year career. I’m not saying we should ignore Adelaide 1994, or Jerez 1997, but there are many more events over the years which attest to Schumacher’s skills.

Barcelona 1996 is the prime example. Earning the name “Regenmeister” in the process, he utterly destroyed the entire field in torrential rain, lapping 3 seconds a lap faster than anyone else, and lapping all drivers all the way up to 3rd position. If that isn’t one of the most legendary drives in F1, I don’t know what is.

The United States Grand Prix of 2003 will always stand out in my mind, rather unsurprisingly, seeing as it was my second ever F1 race. After slipping down to 6th on a damp track, Schumacher assumed the Bridgestone intermediates, and thrashed the entire field, cruising to the chequered flag after assuming the lead on lap 20.

What struck me about his pace, though, was his sheer consistency. While the BMWs and McLarens slided around the track like they were on ice, Schumacher was able to use his intermediates until they were slicks, not making a single mistake all race.

His pace since his return was never going to emulate his previous glory, only the naive would have thought that. Perhaps this is the reason so many were disappointed with his comeback, seeing as Michael had made such a fuss about winning the world championship again.

But that’s not the point. By returning in 2010, Schumacher had thrown himself into a different era of Formula 1. The tyres are more challenging, the cars are less rear-stable (for several reasons) and the talent pool had grown enormously. After shoving aside Kimi Raikkonen from 2001 to 2006, and Fernando Alonso up to 2004 Schumacher suddenly found himself completely eclipsed by the new guard. How much of it was down to old age, we will never know.

It has, however, given him new perspective:

"In the past six years I have learned a lot, also about me, and I am thankful for 
it: for example, that you can open yourself up without losing focus. That losing 
can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning; something I had lost 
out of sight sometimes in earlier years. That you have to appreciate to be able to 
do what you love. That you have to live your convictions. I have opened my horizon, 
and I am at ease with myself."

With his mind clear, I believe we can now look on Schumacher as the most complete driver in Formula 1 history. To this day, he is completely synonymous with this sport, and for good reason. We will never forget the glory days, Ferrari fans or not, and many will forever appreciate the huge appeal he gave to this epic sport.

The only thing he still has to do is complete a second epic exit from the sport. Many remember Brazil 2006 as one of his best drives, so let’s see what he’s got in these final few weeks.

Michael Schumacher announces second and final F1 retirement

After three disappointing years since his comeback in 2010, Michael Schumacher has decided to bow out of Formula 1 for good.

The 43-year-old has spent 3 difficult years with the Mercedes team, managing a solitary pole position, and one podium finish in that time. Bringing back memories, he has been often at the centre of controversy, with his dangerous move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary 2010, spearing into Nick Heidfeld in Singapore, and recently taking out Jean-Eric Vergne at the same street circuit.

However, Schumacher today stated that he was still pleased with his comeback, and was satisfied that he was still able to compete at the top level:

"I have decided to retire from Formula One at the end of the season, although I am 
still able to compete with the best drivers of the world. This is something that 
makes me proud, and this is part of why I never regretted my comeback. I can be 
happy with my performance and the fact that I was continuously raising my game 
during the last three years. But then, at some point it is time to say goodbye.

Already during the past weeks and months I was not sure if I would still have the 
motivation and energy which is necessary to go on; and it is not my style to do 
anything which I am not 100% convinced about. With today’s decision I feel 
released from those doubts.

In the end, it is not my ambition to just drive around but to fight for 
victories; and the pleasure of driving is nourished by competitiveness."

He also acknowledged his faults in the past few years, and lamented his and his team’s inability to produce a championship-winning car:

"I have said at the end of 2009 that I want to be measured by my success, 
and this is why I had a lot of criticism in the past three years which 
partly was justified. It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goal 
to develop a world championship fighting car within those three years. It is 
also without doubt that I cannot provide a long term perspective to anyone. 
But then it is also clear that I can still be very happy about my overall 
achievements in Formula One.

In the past six years I have learned a lot, also about me, and I am thankful 
for it: for example, that you can open yourself up without losing focus. That 
losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning; something 
I had lost out of sight sometimes in earlier years. That you have to appreciate 
to be able to do what you love. That you have to live your convictions. I have 
opened my horizon, and I am at ease with myself.

I would like to thank Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and the Team for their trust. But 
I also would like to thank all my friends, partners and companions, who over 
many good years in motorsport supported me. But most of all I would like to 
thank my family for standing always by my side, giving me the freedom to live 
my convictions and sharing my joy."

Michael initially joined the Mercedes team for several reasons, one of the largest being Ross Brawn, the team principal and Schumacher’s boss in the Ferrari glory days, as well as back at Benneton in 1994/1995. Today he offered his thoughts on Michael’s retirement:

"We have enjoyed so many experiences together during our time at Benetton, Ferrari 
and Mercedes, and I feel very proud, honoured and privileged to have had the 
opportunity to work with Michael so
closely.

In my opinion, he is the greatest Formula One driver, and the records which he holds 
in our sport speak volumes for his success and commitment. On behalf of everyone at 
our Silver Arrows team, we wish Michael all the best with his future plans and extend 
our sincere thanks to him for his commitment, passion and hard work during our three 
=years together.

We have not achieved the results that we would have wished during this time; however 
Michael’s contribution to our development and the future of our team has been 
significant. Whatever Michael decides to do next, I am sure that he will be keeping a 
close eye on our progress in the years to come.

All of us in the team – and first and foremost Michael – are working hard to have six
more races in which we can show a respectable level of performance together. Thank you, 
Michael, for everything: it was, and is, a pleasure to work with you."

Michael Schumacher was responsible for getting me interested in Formula 1. The second ever Grand Prix I watched – USA 2003 – was a perfect example of his incredible speed and skill. Despite the controversy over the years, he will still go down as statistically the greatest Formula 1 driver ever. As a fan, thank you Michael, for nineteen years of tenacity, bravery, controversy and sheer brilliance.

Schumacher handed 10-place grid penalty for Suzuka

Michael Schumacher has been given a 10-place penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Schumacher caused the second safety car period of the Singapore GP, after locking up and slamming into Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both drivers on the spot.

This is the second time Schumacher has made such a blunder this year. The first was in Barcelona, where the Mercedes driver took out Bruno Senna during braking at turn 1.

The stewards noted that Schumacher had misjudged his braking, due to his brakes being cooler after the previous safety car stint:

"The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate 
the braking performance
of the car with lower tyre grip following a safety car period.

The penalty takes into account that this is the second similar offence by the 
driver this season."

Italian GP practice: McLaren edge ahead of Mercedes

After Friday practice at the Monza circuit, it appears as if McLaren are the team to beat this weekend.

However, Mercedes and Michael Schumacher have shown promising one-lap pace, and several technical issues in FP2 stopped them from showing their full potential. Ferrari have decent pace, and the gap between Alonso and Massa is at its lowest in years.

Red Bull, meanwhile, are disappointed with their pace, stating they need drastic improvements by tomorrow afternoon.

First practice

Much focus was on Ma Qing Hua, making his debut appearance for the HRT team, and the first ever Chinese driver to take part in an official F1 session.

He ended the day last, 1.9 seconds off Pedro de la Rosa. On his first flying lap, he misjudged the braking spot at the first chicane, and clattered over the kerbs.

Kimi Raikkonen made the same mistake, before later crashing his Lotus over the harsher kerbs of the Roggia (second) chicane.

Michael Schumacher set the fastest time on the harder tyre – a 1:25.422, over 0.3 seconds faster than Jenson Button. Teammate Nico Rosberg was third, followed by the two Ferraris. The Red Bulls struggled back in 9th and 11th.

There were two retirements near the end of the session, both appearing to be technical-related. Fernando Alonso stopped at the first chicane and Pastor Maldonado pulled over at Lesmo 1 with his DRS flap open.

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:25.422          26
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.723  +0.301  29
 3.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:25.762  +0.340  26
 4.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:25.800  +0.378  22
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:25.861  +0.439  27
 6.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.944  +0.522  30
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1:26.046  +0.624  25
 8.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.323  +0.901  26
 9.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:26.390  +0.968  24
10.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1:26.504  +1.082  19
11.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:26.508  +1.086  18
12.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:26.518  +1.096  21
13.  Valtteri Bottas     Williams-Renault      1:26.641  +1.219  26
14.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.746  +1.324  23
15.  Jerome d'Ambrosio   Lotus-Renault         1:27.180  +1.758  29
16.  Jules Bianchi       Force India-Mercedes  1:27.192  +1.770  22
17.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:27.373  +1.951  25
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:27.789  +2.367  24
19.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1:27.855  +2.433  27
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1:28.578  +3.156  20
21.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1:28.751  +3.329  26
22.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1:29.207  +3.785  21
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1:29.331  +3.909  21
24.  Ma Qing Hua         HRT-Cosworth          1:31.239  +5.817  26

Second practice

Local hero Fernando Alonso was forced to retire again with 20 minutes to go in FP2, cruising back to the pits in second gear. Despite not appearing for the rest of the session, he still managed third place, 0.05 seconds off Lewis Hamilton.

The McLarens were separated by 3 hundreths of a second at the front. Again, the Ferraris were very evenly matched, but Mercedes were unable to perform in FP2, due to a raft of issues.

Both cars lost their DRS systems at some point during the session. Schumacher’s car stopped communicating telemetry, while Rosberg suffered a variety of technical glitches.

Pos  Driver              Car                   Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.290          32
 2.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:25.328  +0.038  35
 3.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:25.348  +0.058  17
 4.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:25.430  +0.140  43
 5.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:25.446  +0.156  41
 6.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1:25.504  +0.214  42
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.546  +0.256  40
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:25.547  +0.257  36
 9.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.068  +0.778  32
10.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:26.094  +0.804  38
11.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:26.104  +0.814  35
12.  Jerome d'Ambrosio   Lotus-Renault         1:26.157  +0.867  36
13.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:26.394  +1.104  31
14.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1:26.404  +1.114  42
15.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.724  +1.434  33
16.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:26.730  +1.440  17
17.  Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault      1:26.783  +1.493  39
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1:26.841  +1.551  39
19.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.864  +1.574  36
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1:27.222  +1.932  36
21.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.944  +2.654  36
22.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.968  +2.678  36
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1:28.575  +3.285  34
24.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth          1:28.779  +3.489  21

2012 half-way driver rankings: 14th – 8th

In the second of 4 posts, I will judge the 2012 drivers based on their performances so far this season.

Drivers knocked out in Q1 (so to speak) included Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado. Here is the second round, including a few more big names…

Nothing massively convincing from Senna, but still better than Maldonado

Nothing massively convincing from Senna, but still better than Maldonado

14th: Bruno Senna

Previous ranking: 17th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Bruno’s impact has been unconvincing to say the least.”

It might seem a surprise to put Senna ahead of his more celebrated teammate, but the small gap in the points standings is more than compensated by considerably more intelligent driving.

In only his second race for Williams, he stormed through the field in treacherous conditions to finish 6th. He inherited points-scoring positions after teammate Maldonado was handed post-race penalties.

Despite this, a lack of raw pace is apparent. He has only out-qualified Maldonado 3 times, with an average deficit of over half a second. While Pastor stormed to victory in Spain, he had crashed out in qualifying and retired from the race. He has only reached Q3 once, compared to the Venezuelan’s 7 times.

At the end of the day though, if you were to ignore the one-off result in Barcelona, then Senna has performed much better against Maldonado than many would have thought. Also, Bruno hasn’t been involved in half the accidents, and still spends the majority of his racing laps ahead of his teammate. Rather quietly, he is the more complete driver of the Williams team.

A decent start from Hulkenberg

A decent start from Hulkenberg

13th: Nico Hulkenberg

Previous ranking: 11th out of 27 (2010 final)

Review from previous ranking: “Several poor showings may not have helped him, but nevertheless I would have thought that Nico should have stayed on [with Williams].”

After a rather pointless year out of the sport, Nico Hulkenberg is back, and has already proved himself a worthy adversary to last year’s hotshot rookie Paul di Resta.

Judging by the stats, both drivers are incredibly well matched. Neither has the edge in either qualifying or race results, although Di Resta has been able to achieve slightly higher finishing positions on times, which has given him the lead on points.

Hulkenberg’s finishing positions, while not dramatic in any way, are still more consistent though, and this is a considerable advantage to have. On more than a few occasions Nico has finished in 11th or 12th places, so with a bit of luck he could have closed up the 10-point gap between the two.

So far, it is almost too close to call, but I think that Paul has a slight edge over Nico at the moment. However, this could change at any time, and I am looking forward to see how the young German retaliates in the second half of 2012.

It's been a mix of highs and lows for Button

It’s been a mix of highs and lows for Button

12th: Jenson Button

Previous ranking: 3rd out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “The balance of power ha[s] shifted at McLaren, and Button is now comfortably ahead of his teammate in all areas.”

To say “how things change” doesn’t begin to analyse Button’s predicament – his on/off season has shown that even the best drivers can be thrown off course.

Yes, it is very easy to point out his crushing win in Melbourne, or his return to form in Germany, but his atrocious form a quarter way through the season says it all. In some races, Jenson was displaying Felipe Massa levels of rubbish. In Monaco for example, a complete drop-off in pace allowed him to be humiliated by Kovalainen’s Caterham.

This complete lack of pace continued on into Canada, where he qualified 10th and finished 16th. In his home race, he was unable to make any impact on the frontrunners, only barely scraping a point.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same driver who cakewalked the first 7 races of 2009. He has only out-qualified teammate Hamilton twice, and only by sheer pace once. The gap between them in qualifying is nearly half a second, which demonstrates how off the ball he has become.

We know that Button can demolish the entire field when he is on form. The problem is that his driving style simply doesn’t suit the 2012 Pirelli tyre compounds, which require high tyre temperatures through the corners. Jenson’s smooth entry and exit into corners means that his McLaren simply slides around the racetrack.

It’s a harsh ranking, but I don’t think that so far in 2012 we can rank him amongst the high-level drivers.

Aside from Silverstone, remarkably consistent pace for Di Resta

Aside from Silverstone, remarkably consistent pace for Di Resta

11th: Paul di Resta

Previous ranking: 10th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “It still amazes me that Paul di Resta is in only his first year in F1 – his form makes him look like an experienced veteran.”

Like 2011, Paul di Resta has shown unremarkable yet consistent pace, which has allowed him to creep up the driver’s standings.

As I said earlier, there is little between Di Resta and teammate Hulkenberg in either qualifying or the races, the only difference being is Paul’s higher finishing positions. Di Resta’s weakness seems to be his poor starts – so far he has lost 10 overall places on the first lap.

However, he has proven himself to be rather flexible with tyre strategies. This has allowed him to run 1-stop tyre strategies in several races so far, netting him 7th place in Valencia.

Points-wise, he still has a slight advantage over Hulkenberg, but a single race could change that. Therefore, Di Resta will still need to up his game through 2012 if he is to remain on top at Force India.

Kobayashi races as well as always

Kobayashi races as well as always

10th: Kamui Kobayashi

Previous ranking: 14th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Overall, it was a decent season, but improvement is still necessary.”

Like Senna, Kobayashi’s season has been rather overshadowed by the performances of his highly rated teammate. Still, Kamui has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with.

As always, he has proven himself to be able to battle with the big boys, as proven in Spain when he passed both Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in daring moves. He once said “If I feel I can overtake I just do it” and this is as true as ever.

Despite teammate Perez taking much of Sauber’s glory in Malaysia, Kobayashi has out-qualified him more frequently. In qualifying, where Perez hasn’t gone better than 14th since Spain, Kamui has been able to break into Q3 three times so far this season – not bad for a midfield car.

Despite differing results, I would still regard both Sauber drivers as being nearly equals in talent. While Kamui doesn’t have a sixth sense for tyre management like Sergio does, he makes up for that with commendable pace and brave overtaking manouvers.

Rookie errors from a 43-year-old is unheard of in F1

Rookie errors from a 43-year-old is unheard of in F1

9th: Michael Schumacher

Previous ranking: 5th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “It’s been more than improvement for Schumacher – he has seriously upped his game, and pushed Nico Rosberg in nearly every way”

After only a few races I began to feel very sorry for Michael Schumacher – this season’s woes have mostly been technical-related, and generally have been out of his hands. Generally.

The problem is that a 7-times world champion should not be making rookie errors. Slamming into Senna in Barcelona, and a howler of a mistake at the start in Hungary were the main examples.

Despite this, the 43-year-old is still showing promising pace. He took an excellent pole position in Monaco, took his first podium in 6 years in Valencia, and in many races has upsetted the established order. Mainly because of technical faults, he has been unable to mount a championship challenge.

Coupled with this, the Mercedes W03 car seems to be falling away from the frontrunners. With this, Schumacher may have to settle for aiming to catch up to his teammate, Nico Rosberg. So far, he has been on par with his fellow German, and has performed much better in recent races.

We may not see Michael after the 2012 season, so keep your eyes peeled, lest we see the return of the Schumacher of old.

Several fantastic drives has put Perez closer to a Ferrari drive

Several fantastic drives has put Perez closer to a Ferrari drive

8th: Sergio Perez

Previous ranking: 7th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “The fact that he is already being lined up for a Ferrari drive is a signal of his prowess.”

In recent days, Sergio Perez has made his desire to drive for Ferrari clear. Does he deserve it? Absolutely.

Perez became one of my favourite drivers within a few races of 2011, and his admirable form has continued on to this season. Obviously, his best to drive to date came at Malaysia, where a fantastic drive nearly earned him his first Grand Prix victory.

Apart from this, he took another podium only 5 races later, and drove well in Germany to seal a great weekend for Sauber. He also recorded the fastest lap in Monaco, nearly 3 seconds faster than the frontrunners – although it must be noted that they were held up by a conservative Webber.

Compared to Kobayashi, Sergio has done well. They are neck-and-neck in terms of qualifying and race results, and Perez nips ahead due to having 14 more championship points.

The only downside so far is that his car has a magnetic attraction to Pastor Maldonado’s. This has resulted in two crashes so far this year, and has cost him several points. However, this is of no fault to Sergio, and he has performed admirably in a midfield car.

Aborted start was due to Schumacher stopping out of position

The FIA has clarified as to why the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix was aborted.

Viewers only saw flashing orange lights at the start/finish line, then Michael Schumacher being pushed back into the pit lane, and then a team radio snippet of him stating that he turned the engine off.

It has emerged that Schumacher only turned off his engine due to the flashing orange lights, which were used because the Mercedes driver himself had not parked within his designated spot on the grid.

Schumacher eventually started the race from the pit lane, before a drive-through penalty, a loss of tyre telemetry, and a puncture forced him to retire.

Schumacher fastest, Webber to start from pole in Monaco

Mark Webber will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.

However, he didn’t set the fastest time. For the second time in two races, the fastest driver has incurred a grid penalty, but it wasn’t Pastor Maldonado as many had expected. Amazingly, it was Michael Schumacher who took provisional pole from the Red Bull.

After his collision with Bruno Senna in Spain, Michael will start 6th in Monaco. The Red Bulls were 1st and 10th, in contrasting fortunes, while Sergio Perez had another shunt with the barriers. This is what happened:

Q1

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Charles Pic was the first to exit the pits, but was blocked by Pedro de la Rosa on his first attempt.

Fernando Alonso was the first to set a fast lap, setting a 1:17.128. However, the red flag was quickly out, as Sergio Perez hit the barrier for the second year in a row. He understeered horribly out of the Swimming Pool, and made heavy contact with the barriers.

The green flag saw a flurry of activity, as drivers scrambled to set a fast lap. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton swiftly went 1st and 2nd, with Nico Rosberg going 4th. On his next lap, the Mercedes driver improved his lap by more than half a second.

The Lotuses were very late setting their times. Romain Grosjean leaped up to 2nd with 3 minutes to go, while Kimi Raikkonen was held up by Vitaly Petrov, and pitted for super-softs with just a few minutes to go. Vettel and Kobayashi followed the Finn’s tactics.

Kamui Kobayashi went up to 2nd, with Vettel and Raikkonen 4th and 5th. Nico Hulkenberg took top spot, after setting his best lap with over 5 minutes to go.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.538

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:17.404

20) Timo Glock – 1:17.947

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:18.096

22) Charles Pic – 1:18.476

23) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:19.310

24) Sergio Perez – N/A

Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Super-softs were the way to go in Q2 as the session got underway.

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher quickly went 1st and 2nd, before they were split by Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the next driver to make contact with the barriers, breaking off his front wing and damaging his suspension. It did little to disrupt the session, apart from holding up Felipe Massa.

Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean moved into the top 10, displacing Vettel and Kobayashi. Felipe Massa took the top spot, while Vettel went back into 8th.

It soon turned into a mad charge to survive Q2. Bruno Senna was first up, failing to move further than 14th. Kimi Raikkonen slipped into 10th, while Jenson Button was only 13th. Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi were briefly in the top 10, but were pushed out in the final few laps.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:15.421

12) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:15.508

13) Jenson Button – 1:15.536

14) Bruno Senna – 1:15.709

15) Paul di Resta – 1:15.718

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.878

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.885

Q3

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Nico Rosberg was first up, but backed off on his first attempt. Romain Grosjean set a 1:14.639 to take top spot, with Nico Rosberg pipping him by 0.05 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.3 seconds off the pace, with Mark Webber moving into 3rd position. While the track was quiet with 3 minutes to go, Felipe Massa exited the pits. He went 8th, while Kimi Raikkonen took 6th.

Pastor Maldonado was next up, but was slightly held up by Massa. Fortunately, he didn’t vent his anger on the Ferrari like he did in third practice.

Fernando Alonso zipped up to 5th, but Mark Webber shocked many by flying onto provisional pole. Massa took 6th, while neither of the Lotuses improved on their times.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Qualifying was completely turned on its head, as Michael Schumacher blasted his way to the top of the timesheets. His 1:14.301 was marginally faster than anyone else, but his 5 place grid penalty from Spain drops him to 6th. This means that Mark Webber will start from pole position tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean just behind. The Ferraris were split by Schumacher, with Raikkonen, Maldonado and Vettel filling the top 10.

Schumacher hit with 5-place penalty for Monaco

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Schumacher was deemed to have caused an avoidable accident

Michael Schumacher has been punished for causing a collision with Bruno Senna at today’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Under braking at turn 1, Michael hit the back of Bruno’s Williams, causing both cars to spear into the gravel trap. Schumacher retired on the spot, while Senna continued on for half a lap before pulling over.

After the incident, Schumacher branded Senna an “idiot”, claiming he moved in the braking zone, but the stewards saw the event differently.

Michael will drop 5 places in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Schumacher pips Hamilton in Chinese second practice

Schumacher showed good pace in the Mercedes

Schumacher showed good pace in the Mercedes

Michael Schumacher edged out Lewis Hamilton in second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes’ “Super DRS” gave it the advantage down the back straight, keeping Hamilton in second place. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were 3rd and 4th.

Paul di Resta and Heikki Kovalainen had spins during the session. Timo Glock was not so lucky, wiping the front wing and nose from his Marussia at turn 1.

Times from FP2:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:35.973            32
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:36.145    0.172   29
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:36.160    0.187   26
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:36.433    0.460   23
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:36.617    0.644   30
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:36.711    0.738   27
 7.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:36.956    0.983   28
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:36.966    0.993   30
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:37.191    1.218   30
10.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:37.316    1.343   32
11.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:37.417    1.444   22
12.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:37.616    1.643   33
13.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:37.836    1.863   30
14.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:37.930    1.957   31
15.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:37.972    1.999   25
16.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:38.176    2.203   34
17.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:38.293    2.320   30
18.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault       1:38.783    2.810   37
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1:38.990    3.017   36
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:39.346    3.373   19
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:39.651    3.678   15
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:40.343    4.370   24
23.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:40.753    4.780   30
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1:41.125    5.162   26

Schumacher tops Australian second practice

Schumacher topped another rain-affected session

Schumacher topped another rain-affected session

Michael Schumacher put Mercedes on top of second practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

Like first practice, this session began wet, but slowly dried out over the afternoon.

As the track was even wetter than before, there was very little dry running for the teams. Schumacher pipped Nico Hulkenberg by a tenth of a second near the end of the day.

Sergio Perez spun his Sauber into the gravel at Turn 14, but was able to continue. Mark Webber, Jean-Eric Vergne, Heikki Kovalainen and Daniel Ricciardo all had off-track moments in the tricky conditions.

Marussia improved well compared to FP1. Timo Glock managed 12th, just behind the Red Bulls, and ahead of the McLarens.

However, HRT had another dismal session. Pedro de la Rosa did a single installation lap, while Narain Karthikeyan was 13 seconds off the pace after 16 laps. The team struggled massively with hydraulic problems.

Kamui Kobayashi had a spectacular end to the session, weaving manically for control exiting the final corner before spinning 180 degrees.

Times from FP2:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:29.183          16
 2.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:29.292  +0.109  19
 3.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:30.199  +1.016  23
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:30.341  +1.158  13
 5.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:30.709  +1.526  14
 6.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:31.466  +2.283  13
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:31.505  +2.322  14
 8.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault        1:31.932  +2.749  16
 9.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:32.184  +3.001  17
10.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:32.194  +3.011  19
11.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:32.296  +3.113  20
12.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth       1:32.632  +3.449  17
13.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault        1:32.767  +3.584  15
14.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           1:32.822  +3.639  11
15.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.039  +3.856  18
16.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.252  +4.069  11
17.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1:34.108  +4.925  21
18.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1:34.275  +5.092   7
19.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault        1:34.312  +5.129  17
20.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:34.485  +5.302  29
21.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:34.604  +5.421  31
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth       1:34.770  +5.587  13
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth            1:42.627  +13.444 16
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth                               1
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