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GP Week : Issue 155
It was always going to be a challenging weekend for Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes driver arrived in Monaco with a five-place grid penalty from Barcelona, making a good result a Herculean effort at a circuit known for its expensive processions. But the seven-time world champion was determined to make the best of a bad situation, and make the best of it he did. Saturday afternoon saw the German legend deliver a blinding qualifying lap that would have seen him on pole had he not had that pesky penalty to deal with. It was his best qualifying result since he returned from retirement at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. Starting from P6, Schumacher’s troubles began on the first lap, when he was squeezed into the wall as the Grosjean/Massa clash played out, putting the German driver down in P8 by the end of the first lap. The F1 record-breaker fought bravely on, racing in the points despite increasingly obvious problems with a slowing car. On lap 63, Michael pitted and retired with what the team later confirmed was a fuel pressure problem. Michael “was very quick when a fuel pressure problem started to slow him later in the race,” explained team principal Ross Brawn. “We tried to continue but it was costing him too much time, dropped him out of the points and forced us to retire the car.” Despite the string of disappointments in the race, Schumacher refused to be cowed by his weekend in the principality. “What can I say?” Schumacher asked. “It was simply a pity to end the race in this way. In any case, the fuel pressure problem had nothing to do with the incident at the start. But it made it doubly disappointing because I had secretly been hoping for a podium finish today. “I will take the boost from the high points of this weekend with me to Canada. The track should suit us and I'm hoping to have a normal, clean race.” After an impressive maiden victory at the Barcelona Grand Prix two weeks ago, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado arrived in Monaco on something of a high, brimming with enthusiasm for his chances at a strong result at the race he twice dominated in GP2. But the Venezuelan driver followed his Barcelona high with a Monaco low after a weekend that went from bad to worse. Thursday was something of a wash-out in Monaco, although the lost running time as a result of the afternoon rain was something that affected all 24 drivers in equal measure. After Friday’s day of rest, action returned to the streets of the principality on Saturday morning, which is where it all started to go wrong for the Barcelona winner. During FP3, the Venezuelan racer made contact with Sauber’s Sergio Perez, in a move that was widely viewed as aggressive but which Maldonado defended as an honest mistake. “It was a mistake from my side because I lost the car,” he told Sky Sports. “I was trying to pass Perez quite quick, cold tyres – it was the out lap–andIlostalittlebitthecar.Iwas trying to recover the car and when I recovered the car I touched Perez. I was completely in the oversteer and when I recovered the car the tyres took too much of the grip and I touched Perez. Maybe I needed to back off a little bit, but I was trying to do my best and that's it.” One lap later, Maldonado crashed at Casino Square, his practice session over. Following an investigation by the stewards into the incident with Perez, the Williams driver was handed a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race. Maldonado refused to be cowed by the penalty, and put in an impressive qualifying performance worthy of a pre-grid drop P9 start. With the Venezuelan due to start the race in P19, Williams elected to change his gearbox, leading to another five-place drop and a P24 grid slot. But a later gearbox penalty for Perez promoted Maldonado to P23 on the grid, a slight improvement. Alas, Sunday was not to be Maldonado’s day – the Williams driver was a victim of the lap one collision that also claimed the scalps of Romain Grosjean and Pedro de la Rosa. POLE, PENALTY, PITS: SCHUMACHER’S PAINFUL WEEKEND HERO TO ZERO: MALDONADO RIDES THE ROLLERCOASTER 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> MONACO