Schumi hails 'special' British fans
Seven-times World Champion says rain-soaked fans deserve praise
Last Updated: 08/07/12 10:37am
Michael Schumacher has hailed the British fans at Silverstone as "pretty special" after they did their best to help keep spirits high up and down the pit-lane during the long stoppage in Qualifying.
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For the second day in succession, the British GP venue was savaged by dire weather which kept cars in the garage for sustained periods of time owing to the large amounts of standing water on the circuit.
The second phase of Qualifying was suspended for an hour and a half after a heavy downpour but this didn't deter the massed ranks of spectators in the grandstands from staying in their positions and sustaining a carnival atmosphere with Mexican waves and cheers for the drivers and team personnel as they appeared on the giant TV screens.
Speaking after claiming a strong third place on the grid, Schumacher, who himself was cheered loudly when he walked over to the Mercedes pit wall at one point during the stoppage, said: "First of all we should [give] applause to all the fans that remained with us in all these conditions.
"That's been pretty special and big applause to them."
The seven-times World Champion also praised the efforts of the trackside marshals in clearing the standing water ahead of the restart of the session.
"A compliment to all the marshals, they managed to get the track in a pretty good shape with all the sweeping and the drying up - there was almost no water when we went back out again. That was a good job," he said.
"So in case of heavy rain tomorrow I hope they're going to be ready between the safety car or whatever they have to decide. I think some circuits simply have that situation [with poor drainage] and they did the best out of what was available today."
As the rain had earlier begun to lash down with increasing ferocity in the early stages of Q2 Schumacher was one of several high-profile names to aquaplane off the circuit and he admits the stoppage soon afterwards, which he was believes was nonetheless fully justified, came at a good time for him.
"In the position that some cars have been you would probably have wished to just finish Qualifying there," he said.
"The ones that have been out [of the top 10] like Fernando [Alonso] and myself we were happy to get this opportunity under driveable conditions because Q2 when it started almost from the beginning it was already on the limit and if not slightly over the limit. Therefore thanks to the FIA to take the right decision and abort it and put it into a spot that was probably the only one available today."
After claiming third on Sunday's grid with a single lap on the intermediate tyres right at the end of the session on what was by then a drying track, three-time Silverstone winner Schumacher reckons he will be able to challenge for victory if the race as expected is also rain-affected.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, he said: "In the dry [in P3] I think we were pretty reasonable because you have to account for fuel we may had compared to others.
"Still the wet we are clear[ly] up front and we can fight for the top positions - the podium at least - and therefore naturally I hope for a wet race. "