Michael Schumacher to retire at end of current F1 season
SUZUKA: Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One for the second time and at the age of 43 on Thursday after failing to rekindle his old Ferrari magic in a disappointing comeback with Mercedes.
The team had already announced last week that the seven-times world champion, winner of a record 91 races in a career that started in 1991, would be replaced by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton for the start of the 2013 campaign.
Schumacher told reporters, packed into the confined space of the tented Mercedes hospitality at the Suzuka circuit ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, that his decision came as a relief.
“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,” he declared, reading from a statement.
“But at some point, it is good to say goodbye. And that is what I am doing here… and it might this time even be forever,” he smiled.
Schumacher’s first retirement came at the end of 2006, after he had won five titles in a row with Ferrari from 2000 and two with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.
That departure proved premature, with the most successful driver in the 62-year history of the sport unable to resist the allure of a return with Mercedes when the Stuttgart-based manufacturer bought the title-winning Brawn GP team in 2009.
The move reunited him with friend and former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, now the team principal, but together they were unable to roll back the years and regain the heights of old.