Schumacher laps the Nurburgring in a Mercedes F1 car (VIDEO)

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Michael Schumacher said thank you to thousands of his fans with a demonstration lap in a Mercedes Formula One car at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Schumacher toured the track on Sunday ahead of its annual 24-hour race. The 15.769-mile circuit, one of the longest ever used for a Formula One race, held Germany’s round of the world championship between 1951 and 1976.

The seven-time world champion retired from Formula One at the end of last season. He had returned to racing with Mercedes in 2010.

Schumacher took to the track with former F1 team mate Nico Rosberg.

He was joined by Karl Wendlinger, who was Schumacher’s team mate when they drove for Mercedes’ sports car team in 1990 and 1991. The pair won their final race together at Autopolis in Japan 22 years ago, after which they raced against each other in Formula One.

Mercedes drivers Bernd Schneider and Bernd Maylander were also part of the demonstration run. But the highlight of the show was Schumacher, whose run in a 2011-spec Mercedes W02 was a rare appearance for a modern Formula One machine on the classic Nordschleife.

Formula One will visit the Nurburgring for this year’s German Grand Prix. But that race will be held on the shorter track which opened in 1984, on which Schumacher scored five of his 91 Grand Prix victories.