HAMBURG: World champion Michael Schumacher said in an interview published yesterday he would think about retirement only when another driver was clearly faster.
The 34-year-old German, who is seeking a fourth successive Formula One world title this season, told Germany’s daily Die Welt newspaper he would quit when a driver comes along who “blows me off the track”.
He added: “Perhaps it would then be better to retire than to try going flat out to compete and thereby put my life at risk.
“If I have reached my limit and realize, hey, there’s someone better, he’s not yet at his limit, then it will probably be time to say ‘that’s that’.”
The Ferrari driver leads the standings going into Sunday’s European Grand Prix at Germany’s Nuerburgring, and needs just one point to become the first driver to reach 1,000 Grand Prix career points.
The five-time world champion has recently extended his contract with Ferrari, keeping him with the Italian team to the end of 2006.
Asked to pick possible successors to the world crown, Schumacher said Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen and Spain’s Fernando Alonso were making the biggest impression this season, but “it is still a long hard road for them”.
Again criticising the new points system, Schumacher said it was a “peculiar” situation to be leading Raikkonen only by three points although he had won four races to the McLaren driver’s one.
Schumacher also outlined the difference between himself and some of his less-disciplined predecessors in Formula One when motor racing had more of a playboy image.
“I have always tried to give my best, even when I raced go- karts,” he said. “I always trained a lot, that was something that was just normal for me because I like sport in any case. “My philosophy is to be physically fitter than the others because I believe it leads automatically to a mental advantage over the competition.” – dpa