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Nurburgring legend - Michael Schumacher 21 Jul 2007

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 21 July 2007 Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton B195 took victory after starting third on the grid. European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany. 1 October 1995. World © Sutton Race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F1-2000 leads team mate Rubens Barrichello (BRA) into the final chicane. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, 21 May 2000. World © Sutton Race winner Michael Schumacher(GER) Ferrari F1 2001 European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany 24 June 2001. World © Sutton The podium (L to R): Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari, second; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, winner; Jenson Button (GBR) BAR, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Race Day, 30 May 2004

During his illustrious Formula One career, Michael Schumacher raced in 11 European Grands Prix at the Nurburgring - and won five times. With such formidable form at the German circuit, it is no surprise that Schumacher has been honoured by having a corner named after him - the Schumacher S.

As Formula One racing returns to the Eifel mountains for the 2007 event, we take a look back at the German’s greatest moments at the track…

1995 European Grand Prix
Qualifying: 3rd, Race: 1st

Although the damp qualifying session was dominated by Williams duo David Coulthard and Damon Hill, it would be Schumacher, then driving for Benetton, who would take the Sunday honours. The German had only clinched third on the grid, but with pole-sitter Coulthard starting the race in the spare Williams after crashing during the morning warm-up, and Hill making a slow start, Schumacher was able to quickly move up to second.

As the track began to dry, however, it was the Ferrari of Jean Alesi which set the pace and the Frenchman seized P1 when the frontrunners pitted. Hill, meanwhile, attempted to overtake Schumacher, but after an aggressive tussle the German maintained his position and then began to pull away. Further back, Coulthard began to slow in the spare Williams and then Hill crashed heavily, leaving Schumacher free to concentrate on catching Alesi.

Quickly cutting into the Ferrari driver’s 30-second advantage, Schumacher went on to make a decisive more around the outside of his rival, then maintaining his lead to clinch his seventh win of the season.

2000 European Grand Prix
Qualifying: 2nd, Race: 1st

Now driving for Ferrari, Schumacher had enjoyed an upbeat start to the season, scoring three consecutive victories. But McLaren were on the move and after Coulthard and team mate Mika Hakkinen had divvied up the last two races between themselves, a win in Europe was vital if Schumacher was to maintain momentum in his title bid.

Qualifying, however, did not go quite to plan. Coulthard took pole and Schumacher was left to feign content in second, ahead of Hakkinen in third. A slow start for Coulthard in the race handed the advantage to his Finnish team mate, who claimed the lead into Turn One, while Schumacher tucked into second.

It would be the weather which would eventually influence the race’s outcome. And when rain began to fall, everyone pitted for wets. With Hakkinen experiencing problems in his stop, Schumacher emerged in the lead. And that’s how it remained until he crossed the line first, with a 13-second advantage.

2001 European Grand Prix
Qualifying: 1st, Race: 1st

Though not the greatest of Schumacher’s victories at the Nurburgring it was certainly one of the closest. With Ferrari facing a strong challenge from Williams, qualifying was tough, but Schumacher managed to take pole with brother Ralf behind and the second Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya in third.

Although the younger Schumacher got the better start, Michael aggressively moved across his brother and defended his position to maintain P1 into the first corner. As the race progressed it became increasingly clear that the Williams were faster, but the Ferrari driver refused to yield.

Ralf’s best chance to sneak ahead came when both Schumacher brothers pitted simultaneously on lap 28. But critically for Ferrari, Michael was able to stay ahead. And even though in its second stint the Ferrari was much faster, the win was still not in the bag.

But then Ralf received a 10 second stop-go penalty for crossing the white line at the pit exit. It was a mistake which would cost him dear, especially as it removed the lion’s share of the pressure from Michael’s shoulders. From there he led comfortably to the end, crossing the line four seconds ahead of Montoya, with Ralf eventually taking fourth.

2004 European Grand Prix
Qualifying: 1st, Race: 1st

This was arguably Schumacher’s most dominant triumph at the Nurburgring and was representative of a season which saw him win all but five races in the 18-event calendar. In fact, the German effectively clinched victory in the opening seven laps of the Grand Prix.

Starting on pole, and with additional benefit of having a low fuel load, Schumacher was able to build up a 17-second lead by lap 8. Even after stopping early, he only lost six places, all of which he retook. With Barrichello playing the role of right-hand man in second, Schumacher was able to stop a further two times but never once handed the lead to anyone other than his team mate

Tactically it was a master class and Schumacher left the circuit yet another 10 points better off in the championship standings.

2006 European Grand Prix
Qualifying: 2nd, Race: 1st

A slow start to Schumacher’s 2006 campaign had let Renault’s Fernando Alonso gain a significant championship lead, but a win in the previous round at Imola the race had seen the German regain some ground. Losing out in qualifying by just two tenths to Alonso, however, meant Schumacher was forced to play a patient waiting game in the early stages of the race as Alonso maintained his lead off the line.

Though close, in the first round of pit stops Schumacher was unable to do enough to move ahead. But when Alonso refuelled for the second time, the Ferrari star put in three outstanding laps to give himself enough space to maintain the lead after he himself had stopped. And so it stayed. Schumacher cruised to the chequered flag, with Alonso trailing behind in second.

It was the 86th win of Schumacher’s career and his last victory at the Nurburgring.