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Schumacher - the title is all that counts 13 Sep 2006

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2006

Michael Schumacher has dismissed suggestions he might be distracted from the title race by his plans for retirement. Instead, with the end of his Formula One career now in sight, Schumacher insists that winning an eighth world championship is his only concern.

“We still have three races left and we have to take our chance,” he said. “We have almost made up the gap in the drivers' championship and already overtaken Renault in the constructors' standings. Both titles are within reach. From now on, all that counts for us is the title. Everything else can wait."

The opportunity to end his career on a high seems to be one of Schumacher’s main reasons for choosing now to retire. At 37, he is the oldest driver in Formula One racing and although still at the top of his game, the German admitted he had begun to question how long he could keep up the fight.

“I am not getting any younger and it is only natural that I ask myself whether I have the strength, energy and motivation to drive for another year and stay at the top", he explained. "Obviously, I am still fit and competitive but would I have still been in the future?”

His decision made, Schumacher has since remained deliberately tightlipped about his plans for the future. But one thing that is clear is his relationship with Ferrari and with manager Willi Webber is far from over.

“Simply 'driving' is not enough for me,” he revealed. “It is not my style. My Formula One goodbye, as announced, will not be a goodbye to Ferrari or Willi. We will work together again in the future and I am happy about this."

Ferrari are expected to announce Schumacher’s new role with the team when they formally reveal plans for their 2007 structure at the end of the year.