It’s official. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of this year’s championship after announcing in the press conference – after winning his 90th Grand Prix at Monza – that he will leave Formula One.
Michael was very emotional as he revealed his decision to quit Formula One after the final three Grands Prix. He has enjoyed every moment in the sport, from driving at Benetton and winning his first two titles at the team, to moving to Ferrari and winning the drivers’ championship a record five times for the famous Italian manufacturer. But now, the German decides to call it a day after winning today’s Italian Grand Prix.
This is what the seven-times World Champion has to say after 15 years in Formula One:
“Words are not enough and whatever I could say now will never fully express how much I love this fascinating world of motor sport and all it has given me,” said Schumacher. “From go-karting to Formula One, I have lived through moments that I will never forget. I am profoundly grateful for everything I have had. I want to thank everyone who has accompanied me, supported and inspired me, right back to the days of my childhood.
“Above all, a special thanks goes to (my wife) Corinna and our two children, who have given me the strength to do what I have done. All these years in Formula One have been amazing, especially those spent alongside my friends in the Scuderia. Soon my future will belong to my family, while I am happy to be still part of Ferrari. But for now, what matters is this world championship.”
His Ferrari team also paid tribute to their great driver after so many successful seasons at the top.
“I had always said that the decision to retire would be his alone, but now that decision has been taken, I feel a sense of sadness,” commented Ferrari President and CEO, Luca di Montezemolo. “We have lived through some unforgettable times together, some good some bad, achieving results that will be hard to equal. To Michael goes the thanks of everyone in the company and supporters of Ferrari for all the dedication he has shown to our colours, for the determination and courage with which he has worked, which has provided immense satisfaction. He is both sincere and passionate and has earned the affection of all of us and of our fans. His relationship with Maranello will continue, albeit in a different form and I am very happy about that.”
“Michael has been the author of a unique chapter in the history of Formula One and of Ferrari in particular. It has yet to reach its conclusion and what he has achieved extends over and above the results obtained,” added Managing Director, Jean Todt. “He is an exceptional man and will become a legend as a driver. For me personally, he is a great friend and together we have lived through unrepeatable experiences. Having had the opportunity to work alongside him has been and will continue to be a privilege.”
As expected, Kimi Raikkonen will be joining the Scuderia Ferrari team in 2007 alongside Felipe Massa. The Finn, who finished in second position in the race, will leave McLaren-Mercedes to fill in the void left by Michael.
“Whilst I have taken the decision to leave Team McLaren Mercedes, I want to stress that I really enjoyed my time with the team,” said Raikkonen. “I have the deepest respect for everybody and will be giving my all in the remaining races.”
Kimi will drive for Ferrari for the next three years and he is determined to become World Champion for the famous Italian team. I believe he can actually do it due to the enormous resources provided by the Maranello-based team. I look forward to the on track rivalry between Massa and Raikkonen next year. Though, I would prefer the idea of Schumacher challenging the young Finn in the red cars…
Anyway, let’s talk about the race itself in which Michael has significantly reduced the championship points to Renault’s Fernando Alonso.
The German won the Italian Grand Prix in commending style ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (second) and an impressive Robert Kubica (third for BMW-Sauber).
McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen started the race on pole position but didn’t have the speed to beat Michael in the Ferrari. Despite this, the Finn will be satisfied to finish the Grand Prix in second.
Robert Kubica, who finished in third, drove an impressive race in the BMW-Sauber. I am impressed by Kubica’s performances in the last three Grands Prix and to finish on the podium is remarkable.
Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished in fourth after a one-stop strategy. Honda’s Jenson Button was fifth ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (who finished in sixth). Jarno Trulli drove a solid race in the Toyota to come home seventh with a disappointing Nick Heidfeld (who originally started in third) in P8 in the BMW-Sauber.
As for Michael’s main championship rival, Fernando Alonso, he suffered an engine failure after 44 laps of the 53-lap race. This ended the Spaniard’s shocking weekend after being penalised for ‘impeding’ Felipe Massa during qualifying…
Despite starting tenth, he made steady progress up the grid thanks to his Renault’s pitstops. He was in P3 behind the faster Ferrari and McLaren before his engine let go…
Ferrari are now ahead of Renault in the Constructors’ championship by three points, while Schumacher is now only two points behind Alonso. The next race is the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks time. Can Renault and the current World Champion fight back and retain their title?