Mercedes have dedicated their victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix to Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher spent three years gradually picking up the pace for Mercedes on his comeback to the sport in 2010, and is generally credited with significantly contributing to Mercedes’ evolution and development from a strong midfield team to a genuine title contender. He remains in a coma following a skiing accident in the French Alps on December 29.
Mercedes bore the words: ‘Keep fighting Michael’ on the side of their Silver Arrows throughout pre-season testing and continued the gesture at the curtain raiser in Melbourne in which Nico Rosberg stormed victory in truly dominant style, winning by nearly half a minute despite coasting a large portion of the race.
Speaking after the race, a clearly elated Mercedes chief Toto Wolff revealed Rosberg’s emphatic win would be dedicated to the seven-times Formula One champion.
‘This victory has a very special meaning for us,’ said Wolff. ‘I would like to dedicate it to Michael, who has been in all our thoughts this weekend.
‘He will keep fighting, as only he knows how, and we are sending all our strength to him.’
Schumacher remains in a coma at Grenoble Hospital almost 12 weeks after he sustained severe head injuries.
Last week his management team said they remain confident the 45-year-old will ‘pull through’ after showing ‘small, encouraging signs’.
Rosberg recently admitted it was an ‘honour’ to race alongside Schumacher, and that many of the skills he adopted from the German champion have been carried over and helped him throughout last season and beyond.
‘He is probably the best racing driver of all time’ Rosberg said.
Hamilton meanwhile added during the buildup to Melbourne Schumacher ‘will pull through’ and that his ‘mental strength’ will be his greatest ally.
‘He’s one of the best of all time. He’s so intense, cool and concentrated. It will help him with his current fight… I’m in contact with his people… He will pull through.’