Bird's hand in Schumacher's rapid lap

First published in Sport Kingston Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

When seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher qualified fastest for the first time since returning to Formula One last week, a small piece of his success may have been made in Hersham.

The 43-year-old motor-racing legend, who drives for Mercedes AMG Petronas, was fastest in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, but was relegated to sixth on raceday after a grid penalty following his collision with Bruno Senna in Spain last time out.

Hersham race ace Sam Bird is a reserve driver for the Ross Brawn-owned outfit and was on duty in Monte Carlo for Team ISR in the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series.

The 25-year-old qualified his Renault in pole position, before subsequently winning his maiden race in the series after leading from start-to-finish.

But Bird insisted that while Schumacher did pick his brains over the Monaco circuit, the German’s return to the front of the grid was all his mentor’s own work.

“Michael has been driving really well and has been a little unlucky this season,” he said.

“The car has been pretty competitive all year and he really deserved to be on pole for Sunday’s race.

“After my practice session he was asking me if there were any changes to the track, but he did the fast lap all by himself. It was nothing to do with me.”

Schumacher failed to finish in Monaco and is yet to win a Grand Prix since coming out of retirement to return to the sport 2010.

Mercedes AMG Petronas team-mate Nico Rosberg finished second, and Bird added: “It was an encouraging weekend for the team and a solid drive from Nico.”

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