Saturday 24 February 2018

F1: Schumacher plans to finish career in style

Ian Parkes

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER heads into retirement from Formula One for a second time this weekend determined to savour his farewell finale.

Six years ago Schumacher faced an end-of-season showdown in Brazil hopeful of claiming an eighth world title before saying goodbye, only to lose out to Fernando Alonso, then with Renault.

Now, after three unsuccessful years with Mercedes, the 43-year-old at least has the opportunity to revel in the moment when he will compete in his 308th - and final - grands prix at Interlagos on Sunday.

"Interlagos is the right place to round off my career because so much of the fascination of Formula One is rooted there," said Schumacher.

"I always enjoy the enthusiasm of the fans, and it's simply a great circuit which has seen many memorable events and always produces spectacular races as the unique layout guarantees plenty of action.

"For me, it's also the circuit that brings back my memories of Ayrton (Senna).

"My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the title and everything was much more intense.

"This time around I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savour it too."

Schumacher departs, however, with his legacy intact, if not a little tarnished by his three barren seasons with Mercedes.

His return at the start of 2010 was fanfare stuff, and there was hope of success given Mercedes had just taken over 2009 world champions Brawn GP.

Certainly with Ross Brawn at the helm, the man who had played a part in all seven of Schumacher's titles - two with Benetton and five with Ferrari - it seemed only a matter of time before he would win again.

But in 57 races with Mercedes, Schumacher has managed just one podium - that earlier this year in the European Grand Prix in Valencia where he was third.

Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Mercedes have not scored a point in their last five races, and Schumacher is currently on the worst drought of his career with a six-race pointless run.

It casts a shadow over his string of records, not just his titles, but also of his 91 race wins, 155 podium finishes and 68 poles.

For Schumacher to depart this time around, he would like it to be with a small semblance of dignity.

"Of course, I would be happiest if I could say goodbye with a strong race, and I am sure we will be doing everything we can to make it happen."

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