Schumi announces retirement

Monza, September 10 :

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One on Sunday. The Ferrari driver will leave the sport at the end of this season, following Brazilian Grand Prix on October 22.

“Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the 2006 world championship,” Ferrari said in a statement released immediately after Schumacher won Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Schumacher will retire with every major record in Formula One. His seven titles are two more than Juan Manuel Fangio’s five and he trails Fernando Alonso by only two points in this season’s standings with three races remaining. He won his first two titles with the Benetton team in 1994 and 1995, then restored Ferrari to prominence with five consecutive championships from 2000-04.

Schumacher showed signs of vulnerability when he won the 2003 title by only two points over McLaren-Mercedes’ Kimi Raikkonen.

The German responded with another dominant year in 2004, though, winning a record 12 of the first 13 races.

Alonso ended his title run last year, as Schumacher and Ferrari struggled to adapt to rule changes intended to stop their dominance.

Ferrari attributed the problems to its Bridgestone tires. Schumacher won only one race, the United States GP that only six drivers contested due to safety concerns with rival Michelin tires.