The bruises were clearly visible. Michael Schumacher’s shins, the left one more than the right, wore a badly-scraped look. When quizzed out of curiosity at the end of a media conference, the 43-year-old smiled and revealed, “I was playing football the other day.”
The battle-scared legendary champion, arguably the most successful driver in Formula One, will be seen in a competitive race for the last time in the country on Sunday following his decision to retire at the end of the season.
More right decisions
The seven-time world title-holder, currently in the 14th place in the Drivers’ Championship list headed by Sebastian Vettel, did admit regretting a few decisions that he took in his illustrious career. “Yes. That’s the truth. But when I look back, I probably have made more right decisions,” said Schumacher.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver confirmed that there would be no more comebacks for him. “I felt good when I left the first time (in 2006). I am still feeling good.” However, he declined to reveal his plans.
“What next? Well, I have four races to go this season. Then I will think about what next,” he said and added, “There will be a lot of opinions about what I should do and what I can do.”
Reinforcing that he was focused on the remaining four races of the season, the 91-time winner on the circuit said, “I know what’s possible with my car. If I get the maximum out of it, I am okay. Podiums and victories are different stories. There’s no point dreaming and you will be disappointed in the end for no reason.”
Asked to reflect on this season, the holder of 68 pole-positions from 304 starts was candid in saying, “Things have not gone according to expectations. It’s been tough three years. We have failed as a team. We are criticised. That’s reasonable and acceptable. I am still capable of fighting but as a team we have not managed to. We win together, we lose together.”
Wise and good move
He described Mercedes’ decision to replace him with former world champion Lewis Hamilton as a “wise and good” one.
“We know Lewis is one of the top drivers in the field. It’s good for the team to sign an agreement with him.”
When an accomplished performer like Schumacher says, “Records are meant to be broken,” it cannot be dismissed as a cliché. Schumacher came up with his response when asked whether Vettel, looking for his third straight world title, was capable of going past his record of world titles.
Finally, well aware of the phenomenal following he enjoys in India, Schumacher was gratitude-personified as he spoke about what he would take with him from the country. “What I take from India is the emotional fan-following. It has been surprisingly high. I never expected it. It’s beautiful to see I am loved so much. So many people share the passion for the sport I love,” said the most loved F1 driver in the country.