Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond return to Top Gear to pay tribute to late Sabine Schmitz

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May all returned to Top Gear to pay tribute to late racing car driver Sabine Schmitz in a special 30-minute episode.

Sabine tragically passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany, on March 17 aged 51 following a three-year battle with cancer.

Jeremy, 60, Richard, 51, and James, 58, who all left the show in 2015, returned to Top Gear for the episode called ‘a tribute to Sabine Schmitz’ on Sunday. 

Special episode: Jeremy Clarkson, pictured, Richard Hammond and James May all returned to Top Gear to pay tribute to late racing car driver Sabine Schmitz in a special 30-minute episode

Special episode: Jeremy Clarkson, pictured, Richard Hammond and James May all returned to Top Gear to pay tribute to late racing car driver Sabine Schmitz in a special 30-minute episode

Tribute: Jeremy, 60, Richard, 51, pictured, and James, 58, who all left the show in 2015, returned to Top Gear for the episode called 'a tribute to Sabine Schmitz' on Sunday

Tribute: Jeremy, 60, Richard, 51, pictured, and James, 58, who all left the show in 2015, returned to Top Gear for the episode called 'a tribute to Sabine Schmitz' on Sunday

Special episode: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond (L-R) and James May all returned to Top Gear to pay tribute to late racing car driver Sabine Schmitz in a special 30-minute episode 

Sabine, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, regularly appeared on the show alongside the trio before their shock departure to launch The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video in 2016. 

Also appearing during the 30-minute special, which is available on iPlayer and will be aired on Wednesday at 7:30pm, was former presenter Matt LeBlanc who left in 2019 after joining in 2016.   

Paying tribute during the emotional episode, which featured several throwback clips, Jeremy said: ‘She was fun and she saw driving a car as a fun thing to do and driving it quickly an even more fun thing to do. I think that came out.’ 

He added: ‘When she walked into a room it was as though everything just got a bit brighter and a bit louder.

Tragic: Sabine tragically passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany , on March 17 aged 51 following a three-year battle with cancer

Tragic: Sabine tragically passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany , on March 17 aged 51 following a three-year battle with cancer

Tragic: Sabine tragically passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany , on March 17 aged 51 following a three-year battle with cancer  

Original trio: Sabine, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, regularly appeared on the show alongside the trio (pictured) before their shock departure to launch The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video in 2016

Original trio: Sabine, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, regularly appeared on the show alongside the trio (pictured) before their shock departure to launch The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video in 2016

Original trio: Sabine, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, regularly appeared on the show alongside the trio (pictured) before their shock departure to launch The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video in 2016 

‘She was turning everything up on your television until it was just [he shakes] just like that – and that’s what five minutes with Sabine was like.’

Richard said: ‘She loved doing something that we all love doing – and also, was extremely good at it.’

He added: ‘You watch those films with her in again and just watch her smile. Watch her expressions when she was driving right on the ragged edge, even in those moments she was happy to give in to the joy of it. 

‘And the great tragedy is I’m sure she had much more of that to share with us.’

Sweet: James said: 'It's the breadth of affection for her. It was everybody from hard-core Nurburgingers, who respected her enormously, to just households who watched Top Gear and just loved her because she'd turn up and slightly smash the place up.'

Sweet: James said: 'It's the breadth of affection for her. It was everybody from hard-core Nurburgingers, who respected her enormously, to just households who watched Top Gear and just loved her because she'd turn up and slightly smash the place up.'

Sweet: James said: ‘It’s the breadth of affection for her. It was everybody from hard-core Nurburgingers, who respected her enormously, to just households who watched Top Gear and just loved her because she’d turn up and slightly smash the place up.’  

Looking back: Paying tribute during the emotional episode, which featured several throwback clips, Jeremy said: 'She was fun and she saw driving a car as a fun thing to do and driving it quickly an even more fun thing to do. I think that came out.'

Looking back: Paying tribute during the emotional episode, which featured several throwback clips, Jeremy said: 'She was fun and she saw driving a car as a fun thing to do and driving it quickly an even more fun thing to do. I think that came out.'

Looking back: Paying tribute during the emotional episode, which featured several throwback clips, Jeremy said: ‘She was fun and she saw driving a car as a fun thing to do and driving it quickly an even more fun thing to do. I think that came out.’

James said: ‘It’s the breadth of affection for her. It was everybody from hard-core Nurburgingers, who respected her enormously, to just households who watched Top Gear and just loved her because she’d turn up and slightly smash the place up.

‘She’d ridicule the rest of us. I think it earned her a huge number of fans.’

Elsewhere, Friends star and former Top Gear presenter Matt, 53, said: ‘People would look up to her you know.

‘I would see it when we did the live audience shows, I would see people tap each other on the shoulder: ‘There’s Schmitz!’

Throwback: He added: 'When she walked into a room it was as though everything just got a bit brighter and a bit louder.' (Jeremy pictured in a throwback still during the special)

Throwback: He added: 'When she walked into a room it was as though everything just got a bit brighter and a bit louder.' (Jeremy pictured in a throwback still during the special)

Throwback: He added: ‘When she walked into a room it was as though everything just got a bit brighter and a bit louder.’ (Jeremy pictured in a throwback still during the special) 

Return: Also appearing during the 30-minute special was former presenter Matt LeBlanc who left in 2019 after joining in 2016

Return: Also appearing during the 30-minute special was former presenter Matt LeBlanc who left in 2019 after joining in 2016

Return: Also appearing during the 30-minute special was former presenter Matt LeBlanc who left in 2019 after joining in 2016 

‘It was cool to watch and the effect she had on people, especially women, she was an inspiration to people.’  

As well as former Top Gear presenters returning to pay tribute, current hosts Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, as well as Rory Reid, also shared their respects. 

Viewers took to Twitter to pay their own tribute to Sabine and admitted they were left in tears over the sweet episode as they praised the return of Jeremy, Richard and James. 

One person said: ‘The Sabine Schmitz tribute is lovely, well put together and great to get the old band back for it. The van scenes, iconic. Amazing lady. #topgear.’

Hosts: As well as former Top Gear presenters returning to pay tribute, current hosts Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, as well as Rory Reid, also shared their respects

Hosts: As well as former Top Gear presenters returning to pay tribute, current hosts Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, as well as Rory Reid, also shared their respects

Hosts: As well as former Top Gear presenters returning to pay tribute, current hosts Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, as well as Rory Reid, also shared their respects  

Air date: The specially produced show was released on BBC iPlayer at 8pm on Sunday, directly following the current series' finale. It will air on BBC One on April 7 at 7.30pm

Air date: The specially produced show was released on BBC iPlayer at 8pm on Sunday, directly following the current series' finale. It will air on BBC One on April 7 at 7.30pm

Air date: The specially produced show was released on BBC iPlayer at 8pm on Sunday, directly following the current series’ finale. It will air on BBC One on April 7 at 7.30pm 

A different fan put: ‘This #sabineschmitz Top Gear special has me all choked up! I met her & she was AMAZING! My hero, we can’t let her passion, knowledge & love for racing and cars die. 

‘We need to educate young females about her to inspire, even though she’s unfortunately no longer here.’

Another follower commented: ‘The tribute to #sabineschmitz on BBC IPlayer is really emotional, what an amazing woman she was, amazing memories of watching her on Top Gear when I was younger, RIP Sabine. ❤️.’ 

While a different account added: ‘Top Gear tribute to #sabineschmitz really does being a tear to your eye what a talent #TopGear brilliant.’   

Sad: Viewers took to Twitter to pay their own tribute to Sabine and admitted they were left in tears over the sweet episode as they praised the return of Jeremy, Richard and James

Sad: Viewers took to Twitter to pay their own tribute to Sabine and admitted they were left in tears over the sweet episode as they praised the return of Jeremy, Richard and James

Sad: Viewers took to Twitter to pay their own tribute to Sabine and admitted they were left in tears over the sweet episode as they praised the return of Jeremy, Richard and James 

The specially produced show was released on BBC iPlayer at 8pm on Sunday, directly following the current series’ finale. It will air on BBC One on April 7 at 7.30pm.   

Sabine, who first shot to stardom as a racing car driver, passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany last month following a three-year battle with cancer.

The racing team, which she founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen, 60, announced her death to the public, describing her ‘brave fight against cancer.’

She was known as the Queen of the Nurburgring after she reportedly drove around the 14-mile circuit – which is widely regarded the toughest in the world – over 20,000 times. 

Sabine won the 24-hour touring car race twice in 1996 and 1997 with a BMW M3 before establishing a career as a motorsport guest commentator and TV presenter.  

Skilled: Sabine, who first shot to stardom as a racing car driver, passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany last month following a three-year battle with cancer (pictured in 2010)

Skilled: Sabine, who first shot to stardom as a racing car driver, passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany last month following a three-year battle with cancer (pictured in 2010)

Skilled: Sabine, who first shot to stardom as a racing car driver, passed away at a hospital in Trier, Germany last month following a three-year battle with cancer (pictured in 2010)

Her skill around the track earned her appearances on German motorsport TV channels, including the D Motor programme, where she took on sports cars such as the Ferrari 360, with much slower vehicles like a 1200 horse power truck. 

Narrated by Zoe Ball, the thirty-minute celebration of Sabine’s life and career featured some of her most memorable TV moments as well as touching tributes from her friends and colleagues including David Coulthard, Susie and Toto Wolff, and Jess Hawkins.  

Sabine was a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presenting team since 2016, having first appeared on the show in 2004 when she won British hearts by breaking the ten-minute barrier around the Nurburgring Nordschleife in a diesel Jaguar S-Type – before attempting the same in a Ford Transit in the following series. 

Sabine’s final Top Gear appearance was in episode five of the 28th season, and despite her illness, she still flew to London to attend the series’ Leicester Square premiere in January 2020. 

Clare Pizey, Top Gear’s Executive Producer, said: ‘We send our heartfelt condolences to Sabine’s partner Klaus and her family whose loss is so much greater than ours. 

‘We had to pay a special tribute to Sabine as she was a such a big part of our Top Gear family and we will never forget the joy we had working with and knowing her.’

Alex Renton, co-Executive Producer on Top Gear added: ‘Sabine was part of Top Gear for over 15 years and it was no surprise that so many people who had worked with her over that period dropped everything to be a part of this tribute.  

‘She was so loved and will be greatly missed by us all.’ 

Watch the one-off episode on BBC iPlayer and again on Wednesday at 7:30pm on BBC One.

Saying goodbye: Sabine’s final Top Gear appearance was in episode five of the 28th season, and despite her illness, she still flew to London to attend the series’ Leicester Square premiere in January 2020

Saying goodbye: Sabine’s final Top Gear appearance was in episode five of the 28th season, and despite her illness, she still flew to London to attend the series’ Leicester Square premiere in January 2020

Saying goodbye: Sabine’s final Top Gear appearance was in episode five of the 28th season, and despite her illness, she still flew to London to attend the series’ Leicester Square premiere in January 2020

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