Hello and welcome to today's edition of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010 from Sidepodcast. This is our look at the season just gone, picking out the key points and reviewing how they impacted the year. We are up to Day 17 - Against the wall.
When Schumacher announced his comeback, opinion was utterly divided. There were those who were joyful at the return of the most successful driver the sport has seen, eager to see how he would do after a sabbatical from the car. There were those who were concerned about how he would get on with the way the sport had changed since his departure, and whether he would still be intent on bending the rules as he may have done in the past. And I suppose there were those who were a mixture of the two, and probably those who didn't care at all.
However, the early part of the year was quiet from the Schumacher camp. He didn't have the car under him to challenge for the podium, and he was still getting to grips with rule changes, new technology and a new team. By the time we reached Hungary, though, the Schumacher we know and... have a varied opinion on, was back.
The Hungarian GP was a fascinating weekend, in fact we may be visiting it several times this advent, but let's focus on Mercedes. Rosberg took to the Hungaroring well and a rain-hit qualifying session saw him in sixth, whilst Schumacher was further down - starting on the grid 14th. The race itself was chaotic and eventful, an early Safety Car mixed up the order considerably, there were pit lane problems, and five retirements. Towards the end of the race, things had settled. Schumacher had improved his position slightly to tenth. Further up, Rubens Barrichello had been running his Williams long in the hopes of gaining position, and after his pit stop found himself tucked up behind the Mercedes of Michael.
Rubens closed up and made an overtaking move down the main straight, taking the dirty line between Schumacher and the pitwall. Schumacher began gliding over, pushing Rubens closer and closer to the wall, but Barrichello wasn't having any of it. He kept his foot down and won the position. It was all over in the blink of an eye, and looked pretty scary initially. Replays showed the Williams was just millimetres away from the concrete wall, making it even more worrying.
Afterwards, Rubens spoke about the incident, quite rightly fuming and he said: "I have a lot of experience and usually with a crazy guy like that I would lift off, but not today, absolutely not. I think it has been one of the most beautiful manoeuvres I've done and one of the most horrendous from him. At the end of the day we don't need that." He also added potentially one of the best quotes of the year with: “If he wants to go to heaven, in the event he is going to heaven, I don't want to go before him.”
Schumacher defended himself with: "As a driver, you have the ability to change the line once. That's what I was driving to. Obviously there was space enough to go through. We didn't touch, so I guess I just left enough space for him to come through. I'm known not to give presents on the track. If you want to pass me you have to fight for it, and so it was."
The stewards investigated the incident, and they sided with Barrichello on this one. Schumacher was penalised with a ten place grid penalty for the next race in Belgium. The ex-F1 driver with the stewards for that weekend was David Warwick, and he suggested that Schumacher had almost been black-flagged, not only for the move itself, but for the example he was setting for other drivers.
After thinking about it a little, Schumacher said: "Yesterday, right after the race I was still in the heat of the action, but after I watched the incident with Rubens again, I must say that the stewards were right with their assessment: the move against him was too hard." He later apologised to Rubens, and the matter was resolved, although I'm sure it still lingers in the minds of many people.
That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. As I hinted, we may still be in Hungary next time out, but you will have to join me again tomorrow to find out. See you then for Day 18.
All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2010
Filed under Mini Series
References Hungaroring, Rubens Barrichello
Previous post Thursday Thoughts - How would you change the public perception of F1?
Next post Friday Fun - Christmas in F1
365 F1 stories