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Schumacher to reach 300-race mark in Spa
The 43-year-old German has developed a special affinity with the Belgian circuit, the site of his F1 debut in 1991 and his first win in 1992 en route to a record 91 career victories.
“First race, first victory, the seventh title; last year was the 20th anniversary and now the 300,” Schumacher said Thursday. “I’ve always called Spa my living room, and now I can officially do so.”
He would probably have already surpassed Barrichello but chose to retire from F1 at the end of 2006, only to return in 2010 with Mercedes.
Statistically, Schumacher is the greatest driver the sport has seen, with 155 podium finishes, 68 pole positions and 77 fastest laps to go with his record seven F1 titles. Six of his race wins have been in Spa.
“It’s uncanny how I always seem to have special moments there,” said Schumacher, who was paraded around the track before last year’s race in which he finished fifth in difficult circumstances.
“For the 400 races? I think we can say no … But it’s nice that the fans are still encouraging me to go on,” Schumacher said. “(Three hundred) is certainly an interesting, beautiful and nice number. A number that I didn’t think about at the time that I retired at the end of 2006.
“At one time there was talk about whether someone could beat (Italian driver) Riccardo Patrese’s number of 250. The 300 is a beautiful side effect.”
Schumacher started out with Jordan in 1991 and won back-to-back drivers’ titles in 1994 and 1995 with Benetton. He moved to Ferrari in 1996, winning five more championships and leading the team to six successive constructors’ titles.
Schumacher’s fifth place last year in Spa felt almost like a victory as he started last because of a crash in qualifying.
He drove with all of his old panache to weave his Mercedes through the field as Sebastian Vettel won the race from pole position _ something Schumacher did with regularity.
But Schumacher’s form has been patchy so far this season.
Although he finished third at the European GP in June _ his first podium spot since coming back to F1 _ he has also retired from six races.
By Tom Fitton
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