After a career spanning more than 15 years in Formula One and currently seven world championship titles, Michael Schumacher has announced that he will retire from racing at the end of this season. Schumacher took victory in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and Ferrari sent out a press release immediately afterwards, confirming that this would be his last season in competition.
In the post-race press conference a calm but evidently emotional Schumacher briefly explained his decision. "It's been a very special day and to finish it in this style as we have been doing today, looking at the championship as well, but much more at what's going to happen somehow in future. There's been a lot of discussion for a long time concerning my future and so on and I think all the fans, all the people interested in motor sport, they have a right to have explained to them what's going to happen."
"To make it short in a way, this is going to be my last Monza race that I'm going to do. At the end of this year, I've decided, together with the team, that I'm going to retire from racing. It has been an exceptional, really exceptional time, what motor sport has given to me in more than thirty years. I've really loved every single moment of the good and the bad times. Those ones make life so special."
"In particular, I should thank my family, starting, obviously, with my dad, my passed-away mum and obviously my wife and my kids who, at all times, supported what I was doing, and without their support, without their strengths, to survive in this business and this sport, and to perform, I think would have been impossible..."
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo commented: "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. 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."
It seems that Schumacher's relationship with Ferrari will not come to an end after the season is over. The team's statement added that it will announce the new organisation at the end of the year "which will also include a definition of Michael's new role." Whether he will take a management position or perhaps some kind of ambassador role remains to be seen.
"Michael has been the author of a unique chapter in the history of Formula 1 and of Ferrari in particular. It has yet to reach its conclusion and what he has achieved extends over and above the results obtained," said Ferrari managing director and team principal Jean Todt. "He is an exceptional man and will become a legend as a driver."
Ferrari also confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen has an agreement for the next three years and Felipe Massa's contract has been extended through 2008. The Scuderia's line up for 2007 will be Raikkonen and Massa, while Luca Badoer will continue as the team's official test driver.