Schumacher quits F1, but will Hamilton return to McLaren?
German bids farewell as Mercedes successor says McLaren will always be in his heart
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER has officially announced his retirement from Formula 1, three years after making what has been a largely unsuccessful comeback. The announcement comes a week after Lewis Hamilton revealed he was joining Mercedes next season, so Schumacher's demise comes as no surprise.
The German seven-time world champion made the announcement at Suzuka ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. The 43-year-old said: "I am still able to compete but sometimes it is best to say goodbye, and this time it might be forever.
"Recently I have been asking if I still have the motivation to carry on, but it is not my style to do something that I am not 100 per cent committed to. Making the decision feels like a release."
His retirement ends speculation that he was set to join Sauber for a final tilt at glory. "In almost three seasons, there has been one podium finish and a single pole position time in Monaco... to remind Formula One of the swaggering genius who made the sport of his own," says The Times.
The BBC says that his departure at least means his achievements between 1991 and 2006, when he was utterly dominant, will not be tarnished by his late-period displays. "His return to F1 in 2010 has, in hindsight, to be declared a serious misjudgement - both by himself and Mercedes," declared Andrew Benson. "He says he is 'relieved' to be going. Those who felt it wrong that his mediocre form in the last three years had led to all sorts of unwelcome questions about the merits of his previous achievements will share that relief."
The announcement came after Lewis Hamilton spoke publicly for the first time about his decision to quit McLaren and said making the decision to leave had been "very, very stressful".
He also revealed that he had yet to speak to his mentor Ron Dennis, who he first met at the age of 10, about his exit, but he hinted that it might not be the end of the relationship with McLaren and even suggested that they could be reconciled in the future.
"I don’t feel as though I am going out of McLaren through the back door. I am going out the front door, happily," he said, according to The Daily Telegraph. "The way I look at it is that I am walking over that bridge and down a different path. If that path brings me back, who knows? I think I will always have McLaren in my heart."
He also likened the move to leaving home. "[It] is just part of growing up. It’s my last step of independence I guess," he said. ·