FIA F1 - Schumacher Prepares To Say Farewell
Interlagos, Nov. 24, 2012: The main focus this weekend is inevitably on the battle for the world championship between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, but it also marks farewells of different kinds for both Michael Schumacher and the man who will replace him at Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton.
Schumacher, of course, has been here before, as his first retirement was made in Interlagos in 2006.“I guess I do have some experience and that’s why, probably, I’m rather relaxed about the happenings,” he admitted. “On top of that, we are not in any championship fight compared to last time that happened to me, obviously. So I’ll just take the best out of it and enjoy it as much as I can.
“Will there be a sadness? Probably not, no. I’ve tried that mission, to end successful. It didn’t work this time but I’m quite happy to finish from here and go for a different life again.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, admitted that he might be tempted to return to McLaren - or at least to their catering department…
“This is quite a unique experience for me,” he admitted. “I’ve obviously never been in the situation I’m in this weekend, where it’s my last race for the team I grew up in. It’s going to be a tough one. Nonetheless, we’re going to push as hard as we can, as we did in the last race, and try to win. I’ve never won here before. So I’m going to have to try and beat Felipe [Massa], as he also wants to win it. It’s such a beautiful race here so hopefully the weather will hold up for us.
“I only have good memories of my time at McLaren. I leave with just the greatest memories, the best experiences and hopefully a lot of good friends I will continue to be friends with throughout the future. I was just saying to them that even though I’ll be with Mercedes, I’ll probably keep coming back to have lunch and dinner back at the hospitality because the food’s great there. So, I hope Mercedes’ hospitality lives up to the one we have!
“I think I'll take away only the positive memories of our journey together. Obviously winning the world championship, winning my first Grand Prix, starting out together and I guess this weekend.”
Asked to summarise more than 20 years of F1 racing, Schumacher responded: “I don’t think we have long enough here to sum it up, but let’s put it this way: It was mostly 20 good years and lots of fun and lots of excitement.
“I just remember when I was in the early days, I said if you’re going to do this four or five years that’s going to be probably most of it, and then I will be tired and I can’t see myself longer than this. Obviously it became almost 21 years. I’m pretty sure it’s difficult for the other guys to imagine that longer time ahead, but let’s see.”
Vettel paid his older compatriot a great tribute.
“I had the privilege to meet Michael when I was a small kid. He was my childhood hero. Maybe he can close his ears or shut his ears now, but he was a true inspiration back then, for me and for many other kids, in Kerpen. He was our hero.
“Obviously we had the honour to meet him. He was taking care of the championship held in Kerpen and came to the last race. He gave all the trophies to everyone, every child, more than 100 at the time, so he was very patient. Now, obviously, we understand the busy schedule that he had, so taking that extra time for the fans but especially for us, for the kids who were racing, was something very special. A very special memory.
“When I met him the first time, obviously I didn't know what to say because I didn't want to ask something stupid but for sure, I remember these moments and then later on. Today I think it's a little bit different because you are more grown up, you have a normal relationship so when I talk to him now, it doesn't feel like talking to my childhood hero. It feels like talking to Michael so I see the person rather than what he has achieved. But obviously, if you remind yourself of that and the fact that I was racing against him for the last couple of years - unfortunately not as close as he probably shared with Fernando - but still that thought or that image was very, very far away when I was a small kid, because obviously he was already in Formula One. But for me it was a dream so very far away but very special for the last couple of years, very special the relationship we share and I think he will always be an inspiration for myself.”