Michael Schumacher will likely retire from racing for the second time. He will stop driving for Mercedes at the end of the season. He didn't win anything in recent years but can look back at a successful career.
It was six years ago, on September 10, 2006, that Michael Schumacher first announced his retirement from Formula One. "Everybody at some point in their life reaches his peak," said Schumacher, who dominated the racing scene like no one else, and ended up being the most successful Formula One pilot of all time. "For Formula One this is a shock," said fellow legend Niki Lauda. "The best one steps down."
Schumacher won the world championship seven times in the first chapter of his career. The former kart driver from the town of Hürth near Cologne won his first championship in a Benetton Ford under Flavio Briatore in 1994. Yet it was a mistake that won him the trophy - in the last race he collided with his rival Damon Hill; in the end he won by seven points and got a disparaging nickname Schummel-Schumi, "cheating Schumi."
After his second title in 1995, he changed teams and went to Ferrari to Italy where a new era began. "At the time, it was probably the team with the most internal conflicts," Schumacher later recalled. He won five titles with the red cars from Maranello, more than any other Ferrari pilot before him. But Schumacher remained down to earth, often stressing the familial atmosphere in the Scuderia. He also found a lot of support from his wife Corinna and his two children. "When I get home, car racing is only a very small issue."
In September 2006 he announced his resignation. "I just didn't see how I would find the energy and power I would have needed to remain competitive in F1 for the coming years," he said.
But Schumacher never fully left the stage. He stayed on as an adviser with Ferrari, played soccer, raced motorcycles and spent time riding horses on his ranch. But none of that seemed enough for him - he wanted to get back on the race track. "After a break of three years, I feel I have the energy that I was missing back then," said Schumacher, explaining his sensational comeback in 2009. He signed with the new Mercedes team aged 40.
But that second chapter of his career was not successful. After 91 wins and 68 pole positions in his first stint, the second did not yield a single win. He only once made it to the podium - at the European Grand Prix in Valencia in June, where he came in third. On top of that, he had to deal with a number of problems with the car at the beginning of the current season. The now 43-year-old also garnered attention with some risky maneuvers before his crash at the last week's night race in Singapore. "During the last three years Michael was a great driver and a good ambassador for Mercedes," said the team's Norbert Haug. It turned out to be a farewell compliment.