Spa, Belgium: Michael Schumacher has rarely been so content with a fifth-place finish in his distinguished Formula One career, but after starting Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix in last place he had good reason to be happy this time.
The seven-time former F1 champion had crashed his car during the first lap of Saturday's qualifying session, dampening his mood as he celebrated his 20th anniversary in the sport on the Spa track where he made his debut in 1991.
The crash meant he started Sunday's race from the back of the grid, but the 42-year-old drove with some of his old panache to weave his Mercedes through the field as his German countryman Sebastian Vettel won the race.
"A wonderful ending to a wonderful weekend here in Spa. I think more than fifth place would not have been possible today, but making up 19 places was a good feeling," Schumacher said. "With all my family, friends and fans here, it was an extra motivation, and I would like to thank all of them for their support."
After his wretched luck on Saturday, Schumacher avoid mishap early on as several drivers collided in front of him.
"At the beginning I was a bit afraid that some of the flying parts might hit and damage my car," he said. "But I was lucky that nothing happened. After that, I had big fun hunting and making my way forward."
Schumacher, who has won a record 91 GPs, waved to fans before the start of the race as he was paraded around the Spa track where he has won six times in the past.
"A great race from Michael at his 20th anniversary here in Spa," Mercedes vice president Norbert Haug said. "Michael drove impeccably and the team had a great strategy."