Allow me to start by saying, I told you so.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I mean this in the best possible way. Did I not say in my past letter (please check the archives for that, danke) that you will step on to the podium and win once again? Let’s set aside the latter part for now and focus on that important feat you’ve achieved once more since your big comeback, returning to the F1 podium–in an unexpectedly emphatic manner, at that.
Hang on, let’s backtrack a bit. See, prior to this race, majority of the media and factions of F1 fans have been obsessing and harping on over the fact you’ve only been able to score 2 measly points so far and have been the recipient of some spectacularly horrible luck akin to those who’ve broken mirrors without shame. I’ve gotten so used to hearing the talks of “He’s past it”/”He’s about to retire yet again”/”He doesn’t have what it takes anymore” and other iterations of Schumi-bashings that they have become almost white noise to me. Why focus on the negativity when hope is so much kinder? And so I have decided to channel a “cautiously optimistic” state of mind for the race weekend and even affirmed it with the hashtag #LeaveSchumiAlone on Twitter. After all, the Valencia track is not exactly famous for thrilling and eventful races, so I thought I would gladly take a minimum of a full, incident-free race and perhaps a decent points finish from you.
However, I made a very serious schoolgirl mistake for ever thinking that you’d go about this race quietly and anonymously. And you made me pay for it–albeit in a good way.
While most of the race coverage focused on the front pack and I kept a watchful eye on Alonso’s rampaging Ferrari and the other one on Raikkonen’s Lotus, you kept your head down and steadily worked through midfield traffic, unpredictable backmarkers and crucial pitstops like a stealthy general.
Before I knew it, there you were. An attack so swift, so cool and calculated, it could only come from you.
Your charge towards the end of the race was so emphatic and masterful and so very–for lack of a more appropriate term–Schumacheresque. I swear I was not just on the edge of my seat but I had to practically remind myself to breathe as I watched you, hypnotized, boss and overtake rival cars left, right and center as if you’re channeling your inner taxi driver yet again to catch a flight. I may be able to inject humour now that the madness is over but I assure you that I was earnestly praying to all racing gods and higher entities that were willing to listen to let you finish the race and score major points, but they upped the ante and gave me and the rest of your fans something infinitely better–a podium finish. I’m not ashamed to admit I did a quaint combination of dancing-pumping my fists-woohooing-and grinning my mouth out after the race results have been confirmed. The occasion called for it, after all.
The way you thanked your team as you were going back to Parc Ferme was so full of humility, sincerity, and calmness that it was difficult for me to not get all emotional. Speaking of which, seeing you step on to that podium radiating pure joy and excitement, and reuniting with old rivals Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen was such a major moment for me (and for thousands of other fans, I am sure) that I cannot even encapsulate it in words.
Of course, F1 being F1, there had to be the additional twist of your podium place possibly being stripped for improper DRS usage. My poor heart nearly went into overdrive and yet again I had to beg the racing gods to have mercy and let your result stand. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and we all got to keep the fairytale ending. Oh, the agony and ecstacy of being a Formula One supporter.
You still have that effect on me, Schumi. You probably always will. Damn you.
And while this result will not silence nor satiate the critics or haters, we, your true supporters, know that while you are very much grateful and happy with that 3rd place finish, you will most certainly not rest on your laurels and will continue to keep pushing to the limit, reaching for bigger and better milestones, for the simple reason that it is what winners AND champions are truly made of.
Actually, I may even be so bold as to call it The Schumacher Way.
Thank you for being a major part of an unforgettable 2012 European GP. I am so proud of you it’s not even funny. Go on and surprise us even more this season. I know you want to.
Go get ’em, Schumi. Never look back.
You will get that race win. I promise you that.
If you can do it in Singapore, that will be fantastic. But if you choose to do it in an earlier race, I shan’t complain.