Reuters news agency described Michael Schumacher’s Hungarian grand prix as a “comedy of errors”. And two of the errors were committed by the 43-year-old even before the race started.
It has emerged in Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that, after the formation lap, Schumacher parked his silver Mercedes in the wrong grid slot, which is what caused Charlie Whiting to abort the start.
“I radioed the pits to say that he was in my place,” Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen, who qualified 19th – two places behind Schumacher – said.
HRT’s Pedro de la Rosa, second-to-last on the grid, also sensed something was wrong.
“I didn’t know who was to blame, I just knew that I was in the wrong position,” the Spaniard said.
Then, when Schumacher saw that Whiting had aborted the start, the great German – whose contract runs out later this year – killed the engine. The rest of the field simply geared up for another formation lap, which left Schumacher stranded on the grid and needing a push from the marshals to the pitlane.
Asked why he turned off the engine, Schumacher said: “It used to always be like that.”
Not exactly: even by 2006 – the last season of Schumacher’s ultra-successful first career – the old five-minute delayed restart had been scrapped. He then sped out of the pits too fast, incurring a drive-through penalty.
“Today was obviously one of those races that you will not look back at for very long,” said the seven time world champion.