|© AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone indicated that Michael Schumacher’s illustrious image may have been dented after the German’s stint with Mercedes in the last three years.
The seven-time world champion returned to F1 after a three-year hiatus from the sport with the German manufacturer in 2010 but failed to add to his tally of a record 91 wins.
In his three years with Mercedes, the 43-year-old registered a solitary podium finish as his only significant achievement, far from his dominance at Ferrari.
Schumacher has now left the sport for good, but Ecclestone believes the German should have stuck to his initial retirement plans that he had opted for at the end of the 2006 season.
“I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now,” Ecclestone told the official F1 website. “People new to the sport - people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently - will remember Michael now, not as he was.
“They don’t see the hero that he was but the human that can fail. I think the important thing is - and this is probably difficult - to know when you can’t do what you used to do anymore and then hand it over to somebody else,” the 82-year-old explained.
“I hope that’s what I can do: when I feel I can’t deliver, I will certainly say goodbye,” he pointed out.
Ecclestone added that Schumacher couldn’t be retained in F1 in another role “because he is too close to Mercedes” adding that it would have been “easier when he was still close to Ferrari”.