Video reveals Schumacher’s start-line blunder

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix got off to a false start after a blunder by Michael Schumacher on the grid.

The Mercedes driver pulled up in Heikki Kovalainen’s grid position ahead of the original start of the race, mistakenly lining up 19th instead of 17th.

This video shot by a fan shows Schumacher’s Mercedes on its correct starting position before the formation lap.

But when the field return to the grid for the start Schumacher, partly obscured by an advertising hoarding, pulled up behind the vacant space his car should have occupied.

This caused some confusion behind Schumacher, with other drivers not taking the correct positions on the grid as a result. Race director Charlie Whiting aborted the start of the race and sent the drivers around to form up again.

At this point Schumacher compounded his error by switching his engine off, meaning he had to start from the pit lane. “Our engine temperatures were very high before the start, and when the yellow lights came on, I switched the engine off,” he said.

Thanks to Girts for the tip.

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92 comments on Video reveals Schumacher’s start-line blunder

  1. Nick.UK (@) said on 30th July 2012, 11:02

    I guess even the most experienced on the grid can make a pretty shocking mistake quite easily at times.

    • Alex (@alexde) said on 30th July 2012, 17:42

      Indeed. In recent times Hamilton (Canada), Button (China), Montoya (Canada), Coulthard (Australia), or even Mansell (Estoril)… had face-palm moments.

    • Tom (@newdecade) said on 31st July 2012, 0:42

      Given how bizarre the whole sequence was… Did anyone see it was actually the schum in that car? For that matter when and where was Ralf last seen..?

      • snowman (@snowman) said on 31st July 2012, 13:19


        Reminds me of an old story of Eddie Ervine back in the Jordan days. Eddie Jordan asks Ervine to go out for some promotional photographs and Eddie being Eddie couldn’t be bothered with it. He moans to Jordan something along these lines “do I have to? can’t you just send out some ***** in my helmet and they won’t know the difference”

        Schumacher heard the story and how it worked so come race day Shumi moans to Ross “do I have to race today, the cars crap and I’m stuck at the back, can’t you just send out some ***** in my helmet and they won’t know the difference”

      • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 31st July 2012, 13:57

        Nah, surely not. Ralf knows exactly where 17th on the grid is.

    • MethylONE (@methylone) said on 31st July 2012, 3:44

      Holy Crap!

  2. sumedh said on 30th July 2012, 11:04

    So *that* was the reason for the second warm-up lap! Nice scoop Keith..

  3. Eleanore (@leucocrystal) said on 30th July 2012, 11:04

    I have to say, the most I took away from this – as bizarre as it was, and confusing for some time until a while after the race when it finally came out what actually caused this – was a reminder of the importance of Charlie Whiting’s job. He’s always there, but I don’t think most watching tend to give him much thought. It’s his job as much as many others to make sure the drivers have a safe and proper start, and he’s obviously got a good eye up there. (After all, the guy at the back did wave the green flag to give him the go ahead! Despite that, he still spotted that something was amiss and the start needed to be aborted.)

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 30th July 2012, 11:18

      It’s his job as much as many others to make sure the drivers have a safe and proper start, and he’s obviously got a good eye up there.

      He probably saw and/or heard Vitaly Petrov’s reaction as he lined up on the grid. Kovalainen was expecting to see Schumacher directly in front of him, but Petrov pulled up in the correct position and was ahead of Kovalainen when he should have been behind. He hesitated in the middle of the circuit for a moment, then cut across to his grid position. He was probably telling Whiting that Schumacher was out of sequence.

      • MatK77 (@bluestar77) said on 30th July 2012, 18:22

        Petrov waving frantically was the thing caught my eye too – I’d assumed he’d stalled but I couldn’t fathom why the yellow flag marshal wasn’t responding.

        Definitely a senior moment for Schuey. With almost five weeks off somebody will have to make sure he remembers to show up in Belgium…

      • Mike (@mike) said on 31st July 2012, 1:49

        He was probably telling Whiting that Schumacher was out of sequence.

        I’d be surprised if he’s able to communicate much other than “problem” from where he is :D

      • Eleanore (@leucocrystal) said on 31st July 2012, 5:35

        Yeah, watching again I can see Petrov signalling, which is good, but still, the whole incident did highlight for me what potential problems Whiting needs to look out for at every race start!

    • Jen Campbell (@12popsicles) said on 30th July 2012, 16:30

      As a race starter, you go through a process of checklists in your head making sure everything is ready for the start. Like are all the marshals clear, all the cars in grid spots (before they go on warm up lap, take note of all empty spots) and yellow flags on the pit wall. amonsgt other things. Charlie has done this heaps of times so would have his own routine, thus able to spot it quickly. It does look strange when theres an empty grid spot for no apparent reason!

      The guy with the green is usually just looking at the last 2-4 cars and waving the flag as soon as they stop. The adrenalin is running high and therefore may not have seen Schumacher stop in the wrong spot. The two HRT’s are right so they wouldnt have had the perspective to see Michael go wrong.

      Whats Hungarian for ‘Oh ****’? ;)

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 30th July 2012, 11:05

    How on earth did a seven-time World Champion make such a rookie mistake? This is the kind of thing that I would expect from a Formula Ford driver. It’s not like the organisers in Hungary changed the grid around so that pole position was on the other side.

    I could maybe believe that Schumacher did it deliberately to force an aborted start and begin in pit lane, which – as was pointed out in the commentary – is considerably further down the main straight than the grid, but there are far easier ways to go about doing it, and if it was intentional, then shutting the engine off was excessive. Not to mention the way Schumacher got a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane, thereby negating any intended gain.

    Schumacher’s gaffe was probably one of the more bizarre – and let’s be honest, embarrassing – incidents I’ve seen in a long time. You have to wonder what was going on in his head at the time. It suggests a complete and uncharacteristic lack of focus.

    • Franton said on 30th July 2012, 11:12

      Turns out the drive through penalty was a mistake, it should actually have just been a fine IF I read the rules correctly. I just don’t see any advantage from starting from the pitlane in any way however.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 30th July 2012, 11:23

        I just don’t see any advantage from starting from the pitlane in any way however.

        Schumacher would have avoided the potential carnage on the first lap, given that overtaking at the Hungaroring is notoriously difficult, so track position goes a long way. Aside from one hairy moment at the first corner, it didn’t happen, but the theory is sound.

        • hobo (@hobo) said on 30th July 2012, 14:07

          The theory isn’t that sound. Starting from the pit lane means you have to let the field pass. He may have avoided said potential carnage but then he’d be 7 places further back (24th instead of 17th) on a circuit that you rightly say is very difficult to pass on.

      • eefay1 (@eefay1) said on 30th July 2012, 11:24

        There is no advantage unless ur a top 10 runner that qualified on a set of tyres then destroyed them in an incident after setting ur fastest time on that set then its not advantage its damage limitation.He is too old and 5 of his championships were gifts with no competition on track and a superior ferrari that on they bridgestones was so rappid, if senna had not passed he would have been in the ferrari,then micky shoe fixer would have been the average borderline cheat he is now. He seems to be getting more and more desperate(like wen he parked it at monico in the ferrari to stop anybody beating his time) retire again sir,Rosberg is putting you into shame indeedy.

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 30th July 2012, 16:48

          He seems to be getting more and more desperate

          @eefay1 Why the attack on Schumacher? He made an embarrassing mistake and suffered the consequences. I hardly think this is any sort of indication that 5 of his championships were gifts.

          If you knew anything of F1 history you’d probably know that Senna would probably not have touched a 1990s Ferrari with a barge-pole as they were pretty much a midfield team. He was desperate to, and finally managed to, get a Williams drive and reportedly offered to drive the Williams for free. I’d be surprised if Ferrari didn’t try to get Senna at some point but as he was later on in his career it’s unlikely he would have benefited from their subsequent revival (even assuming there was such a revival without Schumacher).

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 31st July 2012, 14:26

            @jerseyf1…while I agree that events as they unfolded for MS on the weekend were embarassing and he suffered the consequences, and it had nothing to do with 5 WDC’s being gifted to him, I think the point is F1 for him now is nothing like he had it in the past.

            I cannot agree with your comments about F1 history as it pertains to Senna, MS, and Ferrari. I personally believe it was Senna’s death that caused Max and Bernie to orchestrate a new chapter in F1 post-Senna by moving MS to Ferrari with an unprecedented deal, to end their WDC drought. MS didn’t want to go the ‘those red cars I keep passing in my Benetton.’

            MS had two ‘awful’ WDC’s at Benetton, in that the cars were highly illegal on several fronts, he whacked DH for the ‘win’ in 94, and in 95 there were still accusations that they had illegal traction control and the FIA admitted they could not police for it. The media was hounding the FIA as to how they could allow MS to have his (particularly 94) WDC. With Senna gone, and Max and Bernie feeling the need to get MS, their new icon, away from the ugly Benetton years of 94 and 95, they moved him to Ferrari with all his main crew from Benetton, with a salary unprecedented, with a contracted subservient teammate, also unprecedented, and the rest is history…with a contracted subservient on board you have the green flag to build the car with one driver in mind and eventually the tires too. And thus a new chapter in F1 was created…it didn’t evolve that way naturally…it evolved because Max and Bernie wanted it so.

            That’s why Ferrari was not on Senna’s or MS’s radar, nor Max and Bernie’s. Because while Senna was alive and MS was at Benetton Max and Bernie thought the transition from the past ‘era’ of Senna, Prost, Mansell, Berger, etc. would happen naturally with MS as the new guy to duke it out with Senna and take over the reigns eventually. But Senna died, and MS was in a mess at Benetton at least from a PR standpoint.

            Wind the clock forward to today, and without even discussing what happened to him last weekend, the bottom line is that upon MS’s return we have seen the results of him no longer having a top car, built for only him, as were the tires, without a contracted subservient to shield him from that physical battle on the track as well as the psychological one off the track, without the will and the actions of Max and Bernie to have him end a WDC drought and create a new chapter.

            Even if you think MS earned and deserved everything he got, the fact remains he achieved the numbers he did with a ton of unique ingredients helping him get there, hand over fist moreso than any other driver in the history of F1, and those ingredients are simply not in place now.

        • SubSailorFl said on 31st July 2012, 2:50

          Well said

      • TV commentators explained the drive through was not for his start, but he re-entered on lap 2 to switch tyres and THEN he was a little faster-

      • PJ (@pjtierney) said on 30th July 2012, 16:04

        If I remember correctly:

        Pit-Lane Speeding in pre-race sessions = Fine
        Pit-Lane Speeding in the race = Drive-Through

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th July 2012, 16:25

        Regarding whether Schumacher’s penalty should have been a fine or a drive-through, fines are given if a driver speeds in any session other than the race (sporting regulations article 30.12).

        Stewards’ document 32 describes Schumacher’s penalty as follows:

        Time: 14:05
        Session: Race
        Fact: Pit Lane Speeding – 111.4 km/h.
        Offence: Breach of Article 30.12 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations

        So that all seems to be in order and the drive-through penalty was correct.

        • eefay1 (@eefay1) said on 30th July 2012, 23:28

          If only people had read ur post mate,they could have saved time and effort,the aborted lap was still lap 1 of the race,no fine cs he done it at 14.05 so drive through.simples.
          If it wasn’t for bad luck that oap German would have no luck at all,pressure never really used to bother him,let’s face it he is mercs pr stunt and its worked,he has some extra cash and that is that,I strongly believe if they had put the effort into sorting nico out instead of changing a car that nico was qualifying and winning races in they would be doing better.Its like do anything to keep msc happy&stop him crying.his tallent is gone,along with his thought train and ability to still drive fast and process information and or tasks in the cockpit. He is a spoilt 40’odd year old child that won’t give up in the face of scrutiny.stubborn to a fault&belief he is uber important. Dilusional,at what age do they take ur superlicense off you for oap reasons? Lol the banter.

    • HoolyF1 (@hoolyf1) said on 30th July 2012, 11:24

      @prisoner-monkeys no he definitely did not do it on purpose because if you start from the pit lane you are not allowed to leave the pit lane until all of the other cars have gone around the first corner

    • thatscienceguy said on 30th July 2012, 11:27

      There is no advantage i can see from starting in the pitlane deliberately. The exit may be further down than the grid, but you can’t leave until EVERY car has gone past. So no matter where the exit as, you’re always starting 24 and some distance behind.

      If he wanted to start from pitlane he would have just driven in after the formation lap.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 30th July 2012, 11:57

      If it was a mistake, ridiculous. He could see the empty grid spot ahead of him.

      • David BR2 said on 30th July 2012, 12:32

        Yes, the fact he made three mistakes in succession is very strange (wrong grid spot, switched off engine, sped in the pit lane) but how he didn’t realize something was wrong with that empty spot has me completely baffled. Plus if he saw the grid wasn’t properly formed – which surely he saw, even if he didn’t realize he was the one out of position – why did he switch the engine off? Surely he knew what the start problem was and it would just mean reforming the grid with another lap??!

        • Elena (@elenaschu) said on 30th July 2012, 12:41

          He shouldn’t have been given the penalty apparently as it was before the race so it should’ve been a fine. He turned the engine off because it was overheating, better to start in the pitlane with a car still going than not start the race at all with an engine blowout.

          • David BR2 said on 30th July 2012, 12:48

            True, but I’d read that he’d switched off the engine thinking the start was being aborted, not because he had an imminent problem with the engine.

          • DuncF1 (@duncf1) said on 31st July 2012, 9:01

            The cynic in me would say that perhaps the Merc was under-fuelled for the race, so he took extreme measures to reduce fuel requirements (switch off engine, do one less lap etc.). Obviously, Schumacher could never be that cold or calculating, so it’s far more likely that he just had a ‘senior’ moment.

    • vickyy (@vickyy) said on 30th July 2012, 13:06

      We should not be that hard on him, just was one of those face-palm moment like Button did China last year.
      Just for gag, I was simultaneously chatting with my girl friend and client and with one of those Alt-Tab bloopers, I typed something to my client which I should not.

    • Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 30th July 2012, 17:29

      @prisoner-monkeys He isn’t God to be perfect! He must have been engrossed in something else. Or he must have turned off the engine before reaching his box by mistake, which led him to stall on the wrong grid spot.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 30th July 2012, 23:08

      @prisoner-monkeys Only recently we saw him make mistakes when it came to multi-tasking inside the cockpit and slide off in the wet. Perhaps his reflexes are not what they were?

    • DVC (@dvc) said on 31st July 2012, 3:44

      Could have happened to anyone. You’re reading too much into it.

      • SubSailorFl said on 31st July 2012, 4:21

        Appears to be some 7 time World Champ Armchair Quarterbacks excercising 20/20 hindsight and years of F1 watching experience telling someone who actually has done it how he did wrong.

  5. rocketredf1 (@rocketredf1) said on 30th July 2012, 11:12

    Would Schumacher have got a penalty for lining up on the wrong spot had he not turned his engine off?

  6. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 30th July 2012, 11:16

    Is Michael’s mind still on the job? In Germany he spun off while fiddling with the radio, in Friday’s FP2 he forgets to turn into the corner, and on Sunday he is unable to park his car or turn on the pit lane speed limiter. A shocking performance from Der Michael.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 30th July 2012, 13:34

      @adrianmorse Do you really think he would have made the corner in FP2? There was so much water on track, and he was on inters. He was being super cautious, just listen to his engine note. There’s no way he would have got around, he slid off because he aquaplaned on the standing water.

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 30th July 2012, 14:00

        @pielighter, I was being a little unkind, perhaps, but it still looked clumsy from the outside. First, he clearly misjudged the situation, and second he completely lost control of the car hundreds of yards from the corner. I realize driving an F1 car in the wet is difficult, but I expect more from a 7-time world champion and ‘Regenmeister’ to boot.

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 30th July 2012, 23:02

          @adrianmorse Of course wet driving is difficult. But driving in what was basically a lake with intermediates? Impossible. He may be der Regenmeister but even he couldn’t do that.

          • Mudzis said on 31st July 2012, 11:23

            Schumacher: Aquaplaning didn’t cause the crash.
            “I just ran out of road…I locked up and couldn’t stop it, but I don’t think aquaplaning was the problem,” Schumacher explained afterwards. “It was a bit of a strange one, but you’ve just got to forget about these things and move on.”

  7. sumedh said on 30th July 2012, 11:16

    So what happens if the guy starting on pole lines up on the wrong grid slot 70 times in a row? Does he win the race :D :D

  8. RizkyWins said on 30th July 2012, 11:44

    Schumacher, he’s oldie but a rookie.

  9. Juke said on 30th July 2012, 12:01

    That’s so bizarre that it almost looks on purpose. You always know who’s in front of you cause you race with these guys. For instance, you know Vettel is gonna try to chop you off, so you plan for it.

    You mean he didn’t think nothing of the empty slot in front of him, and didn’t remember that the same car he started the formation lap was now 2 slots ahead? In a way it reminded me of him blocking the track at Monaco qual, except with no clear method to this madness. All the cars were getting hot, but not enough for anybody to shut down just yet (not even his teammate). Kinda looked like he was up to something and it backfired.

    • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 30th July 2012, 13:35

      The way I interpreted it, he started the formation lap in the wrong spot.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 30th July 2012, 13:52

        He was in the right spot before the formation lap.

      • Juke said on 30th July 2012, 17:00

        Pardon me if I was presumptuous. I wasn’t positive about it, but I was also under the impression he lined up correctly before the formation lap too.

        When I said it looked like he was up to something, what I meant there was that he knew he screwed up and was hoping for some kind of concession by shutting the motor off and blocking the track.

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 30th July 2012, 23:08

          Meh, I didn’t watch the video before posting that, I just read the article. :L
          Schumacher is always the malevolent one, isn’t he? If it were another driver then you wouldn’t be making those accusations. Do you honestly think he would screw over his entire race just to cause a blockage of the grid? He may have caused a lot of controversial incidents in the past but he’s not an idiot.

    • Bear in mind that the seats in these cars are literally on the ground so maybe his front platypuss nose was abstructing his view of the next grid slot. Also how would he know if the others are out of order behind him if he was the one unknowingly causing it. Plus also why would a driver look behind at the start of the race as wouldnt they more likely be starting adjusting the steering wheel. And who in there right mind would want to start last in the pitlane without being forced to ? Sometimes these conspiracy theories make me laugh.

  10. Elena (@elenaschu) said on 30th July 2012, 12:09

    I heard that Kobayashi initially pulled up in the wrong grid slot and Michael then slotted in behind him and then KK moved forward but Michael did not. You cannot see that in the video.

  11. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 30th July 2012, 12:21

    If my memory serves me right I think Fisichella have done a similar mistake in the past.

    Anyway, that’s extremely embarrassing for Schumacher. Despite getting his first podium finish with Mercedes, I still don’t believe he’d continue his F1-career next year.

  12. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 30th July 2012, 13:02

    I thought I saw Schumacher out of position on TV, and I thought it was a little odd. But a very strange incident, I would love to know what his thought process was at the time, but this isn’t something that’s normally seen, especially not from a man as experienced as Michael. Have we had a line from him about starting from the wrong grid slot? Or just about the turning off of the engine due to a misunderstanding of the lights?

  13. vjanik said on 30th July 2012, 13:19

    sounds like he had engine overheating issues and was forced to turn his engine off to avoid a failiure.

  14. matthewf1 (@) said on 30th July 2012, 13:39

    Surely this will confirm to MSC that he should retire at the end of this year. I felt embarrassed for him for that start performance. He might still be capable of the odd reasonable performance, but he has been woefully inconsistent since he came back. If he thinks he can win the title he is kidding himself, even if Mercedes built him a rocket-ship, he’d still wouldn’t beat his team-mate, and he wouldn’t be capable of making the most of a good car.

    I was really glad when he came back, and I have loved seeing him race for the last 2.5 years, but he is tarnishing his legacy further the longer he goes on. Raikkonen has proved that rustiness is not a factor, MSC just doesn’t have it any more.

    • Mythos said on 31st July 2012, 12:26

      Raikkonen himself said, that the reason behind his good and Schumi’s not-so-good performance is the quality of the cars they’re given!
      About beating the teammate – Schumi has finished 6 races this season and in 5 of them he finished before his teammate (the exception was in Bahrain – his broken DRS in Q1 and the gearbox change after that made him start 22nd).
      In quallifying Schumacher beat him in 5 out of 11 cases, having in mind his DRS problem in Bahrain, him not making a lap in Q3 in Spain (the team divided the strategies), his team failure in Canada…
      Nico is lucky to have seemingly unbreakalbe (i.e. Normal) car to drive this year.

  15. q85 said on 30th July 2012, 14:34

    The most interesting thing about the video was awesome start from the HRT’s! reminded me of the Benetton/Renault days

    • Omar de la Cruz (@omardelacruz) said on 30th July 2012, 15:26

      I noticed it too! Those HRTs looked mighty quick off the line, too bad they were back at the last spots by the end of the first lap.

      • PJ (@pjtierney) said on 30th July 2012, 16:08

        I think it’s been said before that the HRTs are actually quite decent in a straight line, when it comes to acceleration and top speed, but their aero in the corners is woeful compared to the others.

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