Schumacher made a mistake - Ecclestone

by Michelle Fortune , 07 December 2012

Bernie Ecclestone believes Michael Schumacher was wrong to come out of retirement because his achievements have been forgotten.

Schumacher retired from the sport in 2006 after losing out on an eighth world title to Fernando Alonso, but after flirting with a return in 2009 he eventually signed a three-year deal to drive for Mercedes.

The deal saw him reunited with Ross Brawn, the man who had overseen his seven world titles, but his return did not have a fairytale ending as he finished behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in the drivers' championship in each of the three seasons with the team.

Schumacher brought the curtain down on his career at last month's Brazilian Grand Prix, but Ecclestone fears that he made a mistake by returning in the first place.

"I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now," Ecclestone declared.

"People new to the sport - people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently - will remember Michael now, not as he was. They don’t see the hero that he was but the human that can fail.

"I think the important thing is - and this is probably difficult - to know when you can’t do what you used to do anymore and then hand it over to somebody else.

"I hope that’s what I can do: when I feel I can’t deliver, I will certainly say goodbye."

Schumacher's compatriot Sebastian Vettel could challenge is record of seven world titles after becoming the youngest driver to win a third championship this year.

The Red Bull driver has been accused of lacking the charisma of previous world champions but Ecclestone feels he has grown into the role.

"He will be alright. He will grow into this. He is now super confident - because a large part of charisma is self-esteem and not ego as some might think. (laughs) I say watch him next year," Ecclestone told

"Today Sebastian is the yardstick. Times are simply different today and that doesn’t only go for drivers.

"The whole environment is different. We have many more do’s and don’ts than back in the old days. Remember when Sebastian swore on the podium? He immediately got into trouble. If that had been James Hunt or Graham Hill, they wouldn’t have cared - and nobody else would have cared.

"Look at the television culture today - the f-word has become part of normal conversation. I don’t think that Sebastian’s spontaneous expression was a big deal for a lot of people - just for a few people. Complete nonsense!

"So if you ask what the real difference is between past drivers and today’s drivers, it’s that they were characters before and they’re not allowed to be characters now."

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