Schumacher back on the podium
Even a record champion can lose track of where he is placed at the end of an eventful Formula One race, and Michael Schumacher could say nothing more than "Wow" when he was told he had finished third at the European Grand Prix.
Technical breakdowns on the cars of then leader Sebastian Vettel and second-placed Romain Grosjean, plus a penultimate-lap collision of Pastor Maldonando and Lewis Hamilton swept the seven-time champion of the Mercedes team onto the podium for the first time in a decade.
"I didn't think about a podium. I asked at the end where I finished and when they told me third, I couldn't believe it. You lose count," Schumacher said.
Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug named the result "memorable" and Schumacher said "it's a great feeling to be back after such a long time. It is the best way to jump the podium unexpectedly."
It was the first top-three finish for Schumacher since he won his 91st career race at the Chinese GP in October 2006 when he was at Ferrari.
The long absence showed when he simply forgot to say a few words in German at the post-race news conference.
"I am not used to this any more," quipped the 43-year-old, who retired at the end of the 2006 campaign before returning for Mercedes in 2010 in what is now the final season of a three-year-contract.
Teammate Nico Rosberg won the first race for Mercedes as a works team since the 1950s at the Chinese GP.
Schumacher, topped qualifying for the Monaco race (although a grid penalty denied him starting from pole) but mainly made headlines with technical problems for four retirements in seven previous races, plus one accident, for a meagre two championship points.
But Schumacher said after the latest setback two weeks ago in Canada that he would not give up and also said the problems will be no deciding factor he considers his future beyond the season.
Things didn't look much better in Valencia as Schumacher had to start from 12th on the grid, but he recovered to eighth place once the safety car came out in the 29th lap after an accident and then shot up the rankings thanks to some passing moves and the misfortune of others.
"We were criticised a lot for the past races. But we now gave the best answer," Schumacher said after his 155th career podium behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.
"I am proud, grateful and simply happy."