MONZA, Italy, Sept 11, 2011 (AFP) - A delighted Michael Schumacher made light of his tight battle with Lewis Hamilton on Sunday as he celebrated finishing fifth for Mercedes in the Italian Grand Prix.
Schumacher and Hamilton, of Mercedes, scrapped on the limit in their fight for third on track in the early stages of the race - the 42-year-old German sometimes pushing his 26-year-old British rival off the asphalt of the circuit.
Afterwards the seven-time champion said: "I think it was an exciting race today (Sunday) -- both for me and I think for all of our fans and that is why I am happy.
"The fighting against Lewis was big fun, and my mirrors seemed to be very small at times.
"We are both known for driving on the limit and that is what we did. I had to make my car as wide as a truck and had to stretch as much as I could, but in the end, as expected, he was still faster.
"The start was ideal, I held back on purpose at first in order to use the grip perfectly afterwards, and then the left side was all free. "To make the most of your possibilities is the maximum possible at times and that is why I had fun today -- especially knowing that there is more to come in the future, with all the support we have from Mercedes."
His Mercedes team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg's race lasted just one corner, after which he was forced to retire following a collision with the out-of-control Hispania driven by Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi.
He said: "It was a disappointing race for me. I had a difficult start on my prime tyres, but still managed to gain a place at the first corner, so it was quite good.
"Then Liuzzi flew like a torpedo over the grass and put me out of the race. It's a pity because I had a strong strategy and, as Michael's good result showed, our car was very strong this afternoon."