First F1 podium finish for Michael Schumacher with Mercedes

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, from Spain, right, celebrates his victory next to Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, left. Credit: AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez

Former F1 World champion Michael Schumacher claimed his first podium finish since returning to the sport at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.

Schumacher, driving for the Northamptonshire based Mercedes team, came third behind Fernando Alonso, who won his second grand prix of the season. Kimi Raikkonen finished third with Lotus Renault.

Before the race Schumacher had picked up just two points all season, but afterwards the 43 year old seven-times champion was jubilant.

'I didn't think about the podium at all' he said afterwards. 'I crossed the line at the end and asked them where I'd finished and they said third, a podium.

'That was something I didn't expect. It's these moments you enjoy deeply, a wonderful feeling to be back after such a long time'.

It was a race to forget for current world champion Sebastien Vettel with Red Bull Racing of Milton Keynes. He was forced to retire with engine trouble while leading the race after 34 laps.

'I lost drive and I had to stop. Why? I don't know' Vettel said afterwards. 'There's not much we could have done better, but with reliability we all work on the limit.

'Up to that point we had a perfect start, perfect pit stop, a perfect race'.

Vettel's Red Bull teammate Marc Webber finished fourth. he's now second in the Drivers' championship behind Alonso, and two places ahead of Vettel.

Red Bull still lead the Constructors' championship.