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Fans: 'Michael, make it 400'

2012-08-31 07:25

WHAT WAS THE QUESTION? Mercedes AMG driver Michael Schumacher (right) looks at HRT driver Pedro De La Rosa during a media conference ahead of Sunday's 2012 Belgian F1 GP. Image: AP

Alan Baldwin

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - 'Michael, make it 400' urged the poster displayed at the entrance to Francorchamps village in Belgium on Thursday but Michael Schumacher, F1's records-man extraordinaire, recognised his limits.

He will drive his 300th GP on Sunday (Sept 2) at his favourite track but, now aged 42, the (how many more times must we remind you) seven-times World champion had to admit that even his comeback could not stretch that far into the future.

Although, in a sport where "never say never" is something of a mantra, there remained a slight tinge of doubt.


"I guess I can say not," smiled the German at a circuit news conference when the subject arose. "It's obviously nice that the fans are still with me and encourage me to go on bit for the 400? We probably say no for that one."

Schumacher, winner of a record 91 races and only the second driver to reach the 300-race total (the other was former Ferrari partner Rubens Barrichello), retired after a staggeringly successful run with Ferrari in 2006 but returned to F1 with Mercedes in 2010 - to a more frustrating reality. He's been on the podium only once so far in his second F1 existence (Valencia 2012, third) without realising it until his team told him after he passed the flag.

Spa, however, has been special to him. The Belgian circuit saw his debut in 1991, his first victory in 1992 and his last title in 2004. On Thursday he was made an honorary citizen of the town.

"That is something very special," he said.

Whether Schumacher will continue beyond 2012, with his contract expiring at the end of the year, remains a major topic of conversation and one he refused to confirm/deny Belgium.

"I think we made a very clear statement some time ago that by October we will be able to give an indication. Nothing has changed since then," he said when asked about his plans. "How many (races) will it be in the end? We will have to find out. Don't know yet. Certainly go to the end of the season."

The passion of old remained, however. "F1 is the ultimate racing and if you're involved you're only involved because you want to do the best that you can do. There's been plenty of satisfaction over more than 20 years and I still enjoy it."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2012 Belgian F1 weekend.


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