F1: Schumacher: 'Ferrari didn't force me out'

Michael Schumacher is adamant that Ferrari bosses did not force him to announce his retirement following his emotional victory in the Italian Grand Prix, writes Ian Parkes.

Michael Schumacher is adamant that Ferrari bosses did not force him to announce his retirement following his emotional victory in the Italian Grand Prix, writes Ian Parkes.

Seven-time Formula One world champion Schumacher finally ended the speculation regarding his future by confirming he is to quit at the end of this season.

That did not stop rumours surrounding the timing of the announcement, as there were suggestions Ferrari were eager to confirm next year's driver line-up on home soil at Monza.

While Schumacher has scotched such gossip, it did cross his mind to wait until after the final grand prix of this season in Brazil.

"I know there has been a lot of speculation about the timing of my announcement, but for me it was just right," said Schumacher. "Ferrari were incredibly gracious and left it all up to me to say when. After we decided on Monza, I was a little unsure while we were in Istanbul (for the Turkish Grand Prix) and wondered whether to wait until the end of the year.

"But in testing at Monza, Jean (Todt) asked me what I would prefer to do, and I decided to tell everyone after the Monza race because I wanted to be able to focus on it beforehand."

Schumacher now appears to be riding a tide of emotion towards a record-extending eighth world crown.

His victory on Sunday closed the gap in the title race to reigning world champion Fernando Alonso to two points with three races remaining.

With his retirement plans confirmed, Schumacher's mind is free to concentrate on bowing out at the very top.

"I'm absolutely focused on the championship," insisted Schumacher, who has now banished all talk of his future until after Brazil.

It is clear Schumacher's drive and steely determination, which have carried him to the top and helped him stay there, are as strong as ever as he hunts down Alonso.

Schumacher concedes his decision to quit was borne out of fear of being unable to fight for further championships.

"I'm not getting any younger and I had to ask myself if I would be able to gear up the energy, strength and motivation that you must have in order to be able to compete at the top," said the 37-year-old.

"Of course I'm still fit, still competitive, but would I be for a few more years? Just being a mediocre driver has never been my ambition."

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