Michael Schumacher has called time – for the second time – on his illustrious Formula 1 career, today announcing in the Suzuka paddock that he will not be on the 2013 grid.
In the wake of last week’s announcement that his Mercedes seat was to be taken by Lewis Hamilton next year, the 43-year-old – despite rumours suggesting he could sign a deal with Sauber – called a press conference and confirmed the widely-anticipated news.
“It is probably not a complete surprise,” he began. “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.”
Schumacher had declared at the start of his three-year comeback that his aim was to compete for the World Championship within this timeframe. So far, he’s earned a single pole position (at Monaco this year, ultimately stripped on account of a grid penalty) and a lucky podium finish at this year’s European Grand Prix.
“It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goals to develop a world championship fighting car,” he continued. “But it is also very clear that I can still be very happy about my overall achievements in the whole time of my career.
“For example, that you can open yourself without losing focus. That losing can be both more difficult and more instructive than winning. Sometimes I lost sight of this in the early years. But you appreciate to be able to do what you love to do. That you should live your convictions and I was able to do so.”
Indeed, fans have seen a completely different Michael Schumacher to the ultra-competitive, seemingly aloof and arrogant man who was such a dominant fixture in the sport for over a decade.
In his comeback years, we saw a man seemingly at ease, competing simply for the joy of it and clearly grateful to be back doing what he loved and knew best.
None of this would have been possible without the support of Mercedes, who first bankrolled Schumacher’s maiden Grand Prix with the Jordan team all those years ago – a fact Schumacher readily acknowledged in his retirement speech.
“I would obviously like to thank Daimler, Mercedes-Benz, the team, the engineers, and all my mechanics for all the trust that they put in those years in to myself,” he said in closing.
“But I would also like to thank all of my friends, partners and companions who over many years in motor sport supported myself.
“But most of all I would like to thank Corinna, and my family for standing always by my side, giving me the freedom to live my conviction and share my joy. That is very special.
“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!”