Eleven years ago today: When a “magic” Schumacher raced away from everyone for the last time
Eleven years ago today
When a “magical” Schumacher raced away from everyone for the last time
May 26, 2023 at 7:34 p.m
May 26 marks a special date in Michael Schumacher’s unique Formula 1 career. Eleven years ago today, the record world champion set the best time in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. However, Schumacher’s last pole position does not count.
On May 26, 2012, Michael Schumacher showed that, even at the age of 43, he was still good for a magic round. It’s qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. In the urban canyons of Monte Carlo, where weal and woe depends almost entirely on the skill of the driver, Schumacher nails a dream lap that nobody can beat: not qualifying specialist Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren, not his young Mercedes colleague Nico Rosberg, not Ferrari Star Fernando Alonso. The seven-time world champion needs 1:14.304 minutes for the legendary 3.337 kilometers between crash barriers.
“When I saw my time, I thought, that’s not bad,” reported Schumacher after his hussar ride. “This is just beautiful.” His last pole position before that was on July 15, 2006 in Magny-Cours, his 68th, in his last year at Ferrari. 2012 was Schumacher’s last season in Formula 1 after making his comeback with Mercedes in 2010.
Punishment prevents Schumacher’s triumph
However, there was a big drop of bitterness mixed with the jubilation about the supposed pole position. Schumacher had to serve a grid penalty from the previous race. Instead of starting from the front, he had to start the race from sixth place, and his best time didn’t officially count as pole position. After an accident right at the beginning, Schumacher finally retired on the 65th of 78 laps due to fuel pressure problems at the Silver Arrow. “If I had started from pole, you can calculate where I would have ended up today,” the old champion commented on the disappointing outcome of the race.
But one crazy lap, Schumacher’s last “magic” in Formula 1, is remembered.