|© AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Michael Schumacher’s lacklustre comeback to Formula 1 may have come to an end after the German driver was replaced by Lewis Hamilton for 2013 and beyond, suggesting that the veteran may call it quits for the second time in his career.
The 43-year-old was in his final season of his contract with the German manufacturer, which he joined in 2010, but gave no indication what his next move would be after the announcement on Friday.
“I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side,” Schumacher said. “I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up.
“I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races,” he added.
Having won seven titles in his career during his heyday, Schumacher was a mere shadow of his former self in the last three years with 2012 perhaps his worst season following seven retirements in 14 races.
A solitary podium finish, and that too a bit lucky, was all he had to show during his tenure while teammate Nico Rosberg revelled in his first win for Mercedes earlier this year at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Three-time champion Niki Lauda, who was appointed as a non-executive chairman on the Mercedes’ board of directors, however played down the disappointment of Schumacher’s return.
"He has no reason for any regret even though his comeback did not go as he would have liked," Lauda was quoted saying by Reuters. "His statue will not see any cracks because of that. He just did not have a top car in those three years."