F1: Life in slow lane

Michael Schumacher has a fair idea of what he will be doing when the 2007 Formula One season gets under way in five months' time.

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher has a fair idea of what he will be doing when the 2007 Formula One season gets under way in five months' time.

While the motorsport world waits and wonders as to what the seven-times champion will do now he is retired, Schumacher is keen to simply put his feet up.

He concedes he does not know when the feeling will hit him that he is no longer a Formula One driver, and one of the fastest men on four wheels on the planet. But come March 18 next year when the circus starts all over again without him, he can already envisage what lies in store.

"I'll probably be with my kids watching the race on television," predicted Schumacher, who has two children, nine-year-old daughter Gina-Maria and six-year-old son Mick.

There are many who have insisted Schumacher will not stay retired for too long, including Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The 37-year-old German, though, maintains his decision is final as he added: "Before I made my decision on when to retire, people were always asking me when I would be retiring.

"So then when I finally made my decision and announced I would be retiring, people have since been asking me why I don't change my decision. It's very funny. I know this is part of the game, the way of the world to keep on speculating, but I'm not going to change my decision on retiring."

After 16 seasons in F1, there is understandable relief amongst his family that he has finally hung up his racing gloves and helmet. His wife of 11 years, Corinna, offered an insight into her feelings when she said: "I'm happy we're all going to go home healthy. I'm happy that nothing happened in all these years, and that we got away with just the one broken leg."

That was a reference to the only serious accident of Schumacher's 249-race career, sustained on the first lap of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1999, resulting in him missing the next six races.

Schumacher knows what it means to his family to be walking away from a sport in which he has set countless records, many of which are unlikely ever to be broken.

"My dad was happy after the race. He said to me `finally, it's over'!" remarked Schumacher. I think his heart rate was higher than mine during the race, but we can now relax a little bit. Looking back on my time in Formula One, it's been intense, but I've loved it. When I started out in 1991, I never imagined I would have had a career like this."

It was one that ended in typical Schumacher style, with all guns blazing at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Starting from tenth on the grid, Schumacher swiftly moved up to fifth, only to suffer a puncture when the front wing of Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault caught the left-rear tyre on his Ferrari. After emerging from the subsequent pit stop 20th and last, he then produced a masterclass in attacking driving that culminated in the most audacious move of the season on McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen to finish fourth.

As Schumacher said on Sunday "it wasn't to be" after missing out on an eighth drivers' crown, with Fernando Alonso retaining his title by 13 points after finishing runner-up in the race to the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Schumacher's brilliance was not even enough to help Ferrari win the constructors' title, with the Maranello marque finishing five points adrift of Renault. Even he, though, concedes he had to rouse himself for one final hurrah, adding: "After suffering the puncture that left me so far behind, I didn't think I had a chance. So the start was not a lot of fun, but as the race developed I started to have fun.

"By the end I was really starting to enjoy myself as I was able to close the gap and get back into the points. I was not too far away from the podium. Another five laps and I maybe would have been on there, but by the end I felt a lot of joy. Given the circumstances and what happened, I have reason to be happy. So I've mixed feelings - I feel sad but I also feel satisfied."

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