Past Master Packs It In For Good

Waiting with anticipation of his next move, the sport of Formula One today learned that Michael Schumacher is to retire at the end of the season. The seven-time champion’s announcement has been over-shadowed by the news of Lewis Hamilton joining the team, but is nonetheless still a big point of interest.

In the Mercedes motorhome in Suzuka, Schumacher said that his inability to consistently battle with the best on-track, tied in with his lack of desire to instead just fight for points as Mercedes have done since 2010.

“It is probably not a complete surprise to explain a little bit on how my thoughts are on this. Basically I have decided to retire by the end of the year.

Although I am still able and capable to compete with the best drivers that are around, at some point it is good to say goodbye – and that is what I am doing this season. This time it might even be forever.

During the past month, I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on. It is not my style to do something that I am not 100 per cent feeling for. With today’s decision, I feel released from those doubts and in the end my ambition to fight for victories and the pleasure of driving is nourished by competitiveness.”

The future of Lewis Hamilton, now resolved at Schumacher’s expense, has been a hot topic since early summer

For some recent weeks, it was Mercedes who were the team at the center of the F1 universe as they wrangled with McLaren over Lewis Hamilton’s signature while also having the most successful driver in history being unsure of whether to stay on driving or retire. Schumacher’s decision ends rumours that he had been perhaps looking into a vacancy at Sauber, with a seat to be freed after the move of Sergio Perez to McLaren. The German however did state that he could have continued driving in F1 if he wanted to, and that his immediate focus was on the remaining races of this season.

“If I wanted to stay I had options to stay, but I didn’t really feel like it, quite honestly,” said Schumacher in front of a packed press conference in the Suzuka paddock.

It is very clear what comes next. Six races to go. That is what comes next.”

His decision to leave the sport for a second time following his 2006 departure leaves the sport down to five world champions. 2012 had been the first time that there had been six men who had previously won the world championship, all racing together. It leaves all of Mercedes current and soon-to-be-current drivers knowing where there will be next season, although in Schumacher’s case, that is only to some extent.

Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher have been a strong partnership since their days at Benetton in the mid-90s and through to Ferrari and Mercedes

When he made his decision to race again in late 2009, he made it clear that the fact that Mercedes had Ross Brawn at the helm was a large factor as Brawn was the one man who could re-ignite his desire to race again in the top tier of motorsport. The buzz for competitive racing was still there and assured by the team that within three years they would fight for titles, he could have expected to least have raced for victories by the end of what he called “the three-year plan”. Now that plan is coming to an end but the team appear no closer to fighting Ferrari and friends for race wins. The sole win for Nico Rosberg this season in China was largely circumstantial as the cold temperatures played into Mercedes’ hands and away from rival teams.

At 43, it can be certain that the German will not be returning again in a race role. Ending his speech, the former Ferrari driver was clear that his focus was to enjoy his final six race weekends.

“I would like now to concentrate until the end of the season for the last races, and enjoy them together with you. Let’s have fun.”


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