x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Schumacher owes fifth-place finish to his wife Corinna

The legendary Mercedes driver does well despite starting on back row at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Spa-Francorchamps // Women's intuition proved correct on Sunday as Michael Schumacher fought from his lowest ever starting position to finish fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The 42-year-old German was celebrating his 20th anniversary in Formula One at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps this weekend. It was here, surrounded by trees and on one of the most testing tracks in the world, where he had started his career. The following year, on the same undulating circuit, he secured his first race win.

However, following Saturday's qualifying session, where Mercedes-GP's seven-time world champion crashed out on his first lap, he was forced to start on the back row.

And yet, as has been the case several times this season - most notably by Jenson Button in Canada - with the new regulations, a poor grid position does not necessarily convert into a poor race. And Schumacher's wife, Corinna, reminded him of that earlier in the day.

"I'm happy about the result," said Schumacher, who had climbed nine places to 14th by the end of the first lap, and eventually finished 1.2 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg, despite his teammate starting the race in fifth. "My wife is here and she said it would be a good race.

"It was a good battle with Nico: I was on the softer tyres while he was on the harder tyres, and it gave me the chance to overtake him.

"This is a special weekend for me and although it wasn't too good [in qualifying], luckily it finished well. With all my family, friends and fans here, it was an extra motivation."

Schumacher acknowledged that "more than fifth place would not have been possible" as he finished more than 34 seconds behind Fernando Alonso's fourth-placed Ferrari.

The Spaniard had arrived at Spa in confident mood, but left Belgium ruing the raw pace of the Red Bull Racing pair, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who claimed their 10th one-two finish together.

"We can do much more laps than they can do," Alonso said. "But we are slower from the beginning to the end of the stint. They had a pace advantage of one second, maybe more, maybe 1.5 seconds. So when you have a car that is 1.5 seconds faster than the rest it's easy."

Felipe Massa, Alonso's teammate, who had run as high as third in the early stages of the race, fell back in the second half of the race to finish eighth.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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