Michael Schumacher turned down Lotus offer of comeback

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Michael Schumacher turned down Lotus’ offer of a two-race stint with the team as a replacement for the injured Kimi Raikkonen at Austin and Interlagos, it has been confirmed.

Schumacher – who is statistically the greatest driver in the history of Formula One – enjoyed his heyday in the early 2000s with Ferrari, with whom he won five of his seven world championships. After retiring at the end of 2006, the German driver returned to the sport with Mercedes in 2010. However, during his three seasons with the German marque, he claimed just one podium finish and lacked the spark he used to possess, and retired for the second time at the end of last season.

However, it has transpired that Lotus – who were seeking a replacement for Raikkonen after the Finn opted to undergo back surgery – approached Schumacher about stepping in.

His manager explained to German publication Bild: “Michael would be fit enough yet, but he has settled in his new life.”

Therefore, Schumacher will not be adding to his haul of 91 grand prix victories in 2013, and it is unlikely that we will ever see him race in Formula One again.

Lotus confirmed earlier today that Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen will deputize for Raikkonen for the United States Grand Prix this weekend (live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra from 1pm ET) and the season finale in Brazil next week.

The fact that Lotus did approach Schumacher clearly shows that they were not looking for a ‘quick fix’, and for the same reason they opted against promoting reserve driver Davide Valsecchi. Kovalainen – a one-time race winner – does appear to fit this mould, and the Finn will be keen on impressing during the last two races of the year.

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X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.