It was a day to forget for former seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, as he had to pull out of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The weekend started in decent shape, as the 43-year old finished the first practice session in sixth place, two tenths off team mate Nico Rosberg´s pace. And in the second session Friday afternoon, he crashed the Mercedes. But it went on from bad to much worse, since session one was the best result of the entire weekend.
Schumacher qualified 17th on the grid, while Nico Rosberg qualified thirteenth, but as the formation lap was over, Schumacher, for some reason, didn´t park within the confines of the designated grid position, and as race control signalled a second formation lap, Schumacher had cut the engine. The Mercedes was wheeled back to start from the pitlane, as the other drivers completed the second formation lap. As the race progressed, he was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane and ultimately capped of a horrible weekend, by ending the race prematurely with a puncture eleven laps before the chequered flag.
There were some speculation that Schumacher was told to retire in order to get a free gearbox change for Spa in a month, but Schumacher describes his problems like this:
“We did not have full telemetry before the start and during the period of overheating, and this is why we finally decided to retire, so as not risk any damage which might make us suffer in the next race,” he said. “Now we can check the car properly before the break and prior to [the next race at] Spa.”
After the German Grand Prix a week ago, Mercedes admitted that the car needed race pace, as Schumacher ended the race almost half a minute down on Fernando alonso´s winning time. And that gap is something the team will have to work very hard to close, now that the summer break is upon the teams. Factories will shut down for a couple of weeks, so even if Mercedes finds the issues, they will still need to raise their game.
Nico Rosberg is sixth and Michael Schumacher is twelfth in the standings as Mercedes is trailing fourth placed Ferrari by 83 points.