Even the best of plans sometimes don’t pan out. Having a seven-time Formula 1 world champion with 91 wins, 155 podium finishes, 68 pole positions and 77 fastest laps drive one of your cars is probably a wise move.
Mercedes GP certainly thought so; that’s why when Michael Schumacher, the most successful F1 driver of all times, decided that three years away from the tracks were more than he could handle and wanted to make a comeback in 2009, he was signed by the Silver Arrows despite being at the ripe age of 40.
After a three-year stint, in which he was often outperformed by his much younger team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes revealed that it signed Lewis Hamilton for the next three years and Schumacher today announced his retirement at the end of the season during a press conference at the Suzuka circuit.
“I have decided to retire from Formula One at the end of the season, although I am still able to compete with the best drivers of the world. This is something that makes me proud, and this is part of why I never regretted my comeback”, said Schumacher.
“But then, at some point it is time to say goodbye”, he added. “During the past weeks and months I was not sure if I would still have the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on; and it is not my style to do anything which I am not 100% convinced about.”
The German thanked Daimler and the Mercedes GP team for their trust, as well as his family who stood by his decisions.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, who has cooperated with Schumacher for quite a long time, having worked with him previously in Benetton and Ferrari, commented that he is the greatest Formula 1 driver.
“I feel very proud, honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Michael so closely”, said Brawn. “We have not achieved the results that we would have wished”, he admitted but stressed, “Michael’s contribution to our development and the future of our team has been significant.”
At the Belgian Grand Prix, Schumi completed his 300th race, being the second F1 driver to do so after his former Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello.
His best result was a third place at this year’s European GP, which at the age of 43 (and 173 days), made him the oldest driver ever to climb to an F1 podium since Jack Brabham finished second at the 1970 British GP.
By Andrew Tsaousis