Schumacher an F-1 threat again

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:08 PM ET

Somewhat lost in all of the drama that made the final laps of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix the best race of the season was seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's wonderful performance for the Petronas Mercedes squad.

While at first blush it might seem odd to be celebrating a fourth-place finish by arguably the greatest grand prix driver in history, in this case it is certainly deserved.

There have been whole forests laid to waste the past two F1 seasons by critics anxious to lend their two sentences to the chorus of naysayers who told Schumacher he was soiling his legacy by making a comeback after quitting the sport following the 2006 season.

With a fourth-place finish in Spain last season as his best performance since his un-retirement, the Schumacher bashers looked like they were on to something but what everyone saw at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Sunday was vintage Michael.

While just about everyone but Jenson Button appeared cowed by a track that was more a giant water hazard than an F1 road course, it was a vintage Schumacher that was manhandling his Mercedes MGP W02 around the 4.361 km Ill Notre Dame circuit.

And most of all there was Schumacher at the end of it all with a huge grin on his normally taciturn face.

"That was fun," he shouted into the team radio as the checkered flag flew.

Afterwards Schumacher talked about how close he was to getting his first post-retirement podium finish.

"I am leaving this race with one eye laughing and one eye crying, as I am not sure if I should be excited or sad about it," he said. "But even if it did not work out in the very end, we can be happy about the result and the big fight we put in. A good strategy after the red flag made it possible, and I am very happy for our team."

In a very un-Schumacher-like comment, the German native also tipped his cap to the Montreal fans who were actually cheering on the man who had been a bitter rival to the city's own Jacques Villeneuve during their world championship battles in the 1990s.

"I would also like to send a big compliment out to the spectators who stayed with us in those difficult circumstances for so long and even cheered us up," he said. "That was impressive, and I am glad that I could play my part in entertaining them."

It also appears that in the aftermath of his Montreal performance, Schumacher is now drawing rave reviews from the Mercedes group.

"This is what happens in sport -- you can turn things around quickly," Mercedes boss Norbert Haug told autosport.com talking about Schumacher. "Our team is composed, it stays together and everyone is helping each other. This was Michael at his best. It shows that he can do it, and that if we give him the right car he will deliver."

FINISH LINES

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dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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