After three disappointing years since his comeback in 2010, Michael Schumacher has decided to bow out of Formula 1 for good.
The 43-year-old has spent 3 difficult years with the Mercedes team, managing a solitary pole position, and one podium finish in that time. Bringing back memories, he has been often at the centre of controversy, with his dangerous move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary 2010, spearing into Nick Heidfeld in Singapore, and recently taking out Jean-Eric Vergne at the same street circuit.
However, Schumacher today stated that he was still pleased with his comeback, and was satisfied that he was still able to compete at the top level:
"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. I can be
happy with my performance and the fact that I was continuously raising my game
during the last three years. But then, at some point it is time to say goodbye.
Already 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. With today’s decision I feel
released from those doubts.
In the end, it is not my ambition to just drive around but to fight for
victories; and the pleasure of driving is nourished by competitiveness."
He also acknowledged his faults in the past few years, and lamented his and his team’s inability to produce a championship-winning car:
"I have said at the end of 2009 that I want to be measured by my success,
and this is why I had a lot of criticism in the past three years which
partly was justified. It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goal
to develop a world championship fighting car within those three years. It is
also without doubt that I cannot provide a long term perspective to anyone.
But then it is also clear that I can still be very happy about my overall
achievements in Formula One.
In the past six years I have learned a lot, also about me, and I am thankful
for it: for example, that you can open yourself up without losing focus. That
losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning; something
I had lost out of sight sometimes in earlier years. That you have to appreciate
to be able to do what you love. That you have to live your convictions. I have
opened my horizon, and I am at ease with myself.
I would like to thank Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and the Team for their trust. But
I also would like to thank all my friends, partners and companions, who over
many good years in motorsport supported me. But most of all I would like to
thank my family for standing always by my side, giving me the freedom to live
my convictions and sharing my joy."
Michael initially joined the Mercedes team for several reasons, one of the largest being Ross Brawn, the team principal and Schumacher’s boss in the Ferrari glory days, as well as back at Benneton in 1994/1995. Today he offered his thoughts on Michael’s retirement:
"We have enjoyed so many experiences together during our time at Benetton, Ferrari
and Mercedes, and I feel very proud, honoured and privileged to have had the
opportunity to work with Michael so
In my opinion, he is the greatest Formula One driver, and the records which he holds
in our sport speak volumes for his success and commitment. On behalf of everyone at
our Silver Arrows team, we wish Michael all the best with his future plans and extend
our sincere thanks to him for his commitment, passion and hard work during our three
We have not achieved the results that we would have wished during this time; however
Michael’s contribution to our development and the future of our team has been
significant. Whatever Michael decides to do next, I am sure that he will be keeping a
close eye on our progress in the years to come.
All of us in the team – and first and foremost Michael – are working hard to have six
more races in which we can show a respectable level of performance together. Thank you,
Michael, for everything: it was, and is, a pleasure to work with you."
Michael Schumacher was responsible for getting me interested in Formula 1. The second ever Grand Prix I watched – USA 2003 – was a perfect example of his incredible speed and skill. Despite the controversy over the years, he will still go down as statistically the greatest Formula 1 driver ever. As a fan, thank you Michael, for nineteen years of tenacity, bravery, controversy and sheer brilliance.