Schumacher finishes 11th in Montreal

Michael Schumacher was looking for his first top-three finish in

his return to racing after a three-year retirement. Instead, the

seven-time Formula 1 season champion ended up 11th Sunday in the

Canadian Grand Prix.

The 41-year-old Schumacher, driving for Ross Brawn-led Mercedes

GP, started 13th after his worst qualifying performance of the

season, then ran into early trouble when he made contact with

Renault’s Robert Kubica.

“The first stop was perfectly timed, so it was looking quite

promising,” Schumacher said. “Then I had a puncture on the front

right tire … after I got together with Kubica, and that obviously

decided my race. From there, I was stuck in traffic and there was

nothing more to do because today our weapons were not very

sharp.”

Hoping to build on a fourth-place finish two weeks ago in

Turkey, the German star rarely resembled the dominant driver who

won a record 91 F1 races – seven in Montreal – before stepping away

from the cockpit after the 2006 season.

“Toward the end, I was trying as hard as I could to defend

myself, but it was only possible to a certain degree and my tires

were just ruined after having done more than half the race

distance,” Schumacher said. “I was fighting cars with a good top

speed, which was quite tough. Otherwise, I would have been in a

good position, I think, so we have something to take away to the

next races.”

Schumacher’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, finished sixth.

“Sixth place was probably the best result that we could have

achieved today, so I’m pretty happy,” Rosberg said. “It’s been a

difficult weekend with a poor qualifying performance yesterday due

to the tires not working properly and I was unlucky on the first

lap today to lose so many places from the chaos in front of

me.”

HAPPY PRINCIPCAL: McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh wasn’t

exactly at a loss for words after Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button

swept the top two spots for the second straight race to take the

first two places in the season standings.

“I’m told I sometimes overuse the phrase ‘Fantastic job’ when

describing the performances of Lewis and Jenson, but I make no

apology whatsoever for using that phrase again today,” Whitmarsh

said. “This afternoon’s race was extremely exciting from a

spectacle point of view and decidedly challenging from a strategy

point of view, and I think our engineers rose to that challenge

supremely well.”

Hamilton has 109 championship points through eight of 19 races,

giving him a three-point lead over Button and six-point advantage

over Red Bull’s Mark Webber. In the constructors’ standings,

McLaren has a 215-193 advantage over Red Bull.

“Lewis and Jenson did indeed do a fantastic job. … They drove

with controlled aggression when it was needed, tempered by patience

and discipline when those qualities were required. I firmly believe

(we) have the two best racing drivers in the world today.”

LOVE AFAIR: Race winner Lewis Hamilton made it clear that

Montreal is one of his favorite places, repeatedly praising the

city and its rabid F1 fans.

“I’m so glad Formula One returned to Canada,” Hamilton said.

“The fans here are incredible. It’s almost unbelievable how

passionate they are about Formula One. I had my debut win here in

2007, so this track will always have a special place in my heart.

That’s why I hope that we come back here again for many more

years.”

Hamilton was asked about getting an “I Love Montreal”

T-shirt.

“I think I should get one,” the 25-year-old British driver

said. “Maybe I will get one at the airport or something.”

MESSY MASSA: Ferrari’s Felipe Massa made contract with Force

India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi at the start and ended up 15th after

pitting four times.

“This was a horrible race, in which everything happened to

me,” Massa said.

“At the first corner, I had an accident that put me out of the

game in terms of fighting for a top-place finish. I got a very good

start, but I found myself sandwiched between (Jenson) Button and

Liuzzi, who touched me, and you all saw how it ended up. A shame,

but these things happen.

“The car was very good today, as is usually the case in the

races when compared to qualifying. After that, I was always in a

lot of traffic and when I had at least managed to get back into the

points, there was another collision, this time with Michael

(Schumacher) and that put an end to even that slight chance of

points.”

SUCCESSFUL RETURN: The race made a successful return after being

dropped from the F1 schedule last year after failed contract

negotiations.

“We sold all our grandstand seats and admitted the maximum

number of spectators in general admission,” Canadian GP president

Francois Dumontier said. “In total, we have again seen on the site

during the three days more than 300,000 spectators.”