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Will Schumi retire after this season?

india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 12:00 IST

Michael Schumacher is revealing nothing even as the whole sports world is wondering whether the German star will retire from Formula One racing after the season or not.

His return to the fast lane with two straight race wins has prompted many to think he will renew his Ferrari contract, but there are also those suggesting there is nothing better for an athlete than to quit at the top.

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone summed up the options.

"Personally, I like to see a champion retire at the top of his career. But, given Schumacher's enthusiasm, I wouldn't be surprised if he continues," said Ecclestone. "We should let him reach his decision in peace."

That is exactly what the German has in mind, stubbornly ignoring all speculation and insisting that he won't make up his mind until summer.

Schumacher has a contract at Ferrari until the end of the season. He reportedly has new two-year offer that only requires his signature.

The 37-year-old has said all season how much he enjoys driving, and the return of Ferrari to the top after a poor 2005 season will only add to that.

Schumacher, who is coming off victories in Imola and the Nuerburgring in a thrilling duel with world champion Fernando Alonso of the Renault team, has ruled out joining another team. Now it only depends on whether he wants to drive on.

"I was asked around 300 times at the Nuerburgring, it's getting on my nerves," said Schumacher's manager Willi Weber, who insists that Schumacher has really not made up his mind.

BMW driver Nick Heidfeld said, "I sometimes feel sorry for Michael over this issue. I can imagine how annoying it is."

McLaren-Mercedes driver Juan Pablo Montoya said that Schumacher should call it quits at the end of the season.

"Schumacher should quit after the season, especially if he wins the title. It would be madness to continue after another title," said the Colombian Montoya.

But Mercedes sports director Norbert said, "I have the feeling that he will drive in 2007." Former world champion Niki Lauda said, "There is no reason for retirement."

"Schumacher is in a fantastic form. He has everything under control at Ferrari - no rival and a competitive car," Lauda added.

German newcomer Nico Rosberg said he is simply impressed that Schumacher "holds all important Formula One records".

Schumacher leads virtually every ranking in the sport, ranging from world titles (seven) to race wins (86) and, since Imola, also pole positions (66).

While he always said that records mean nothing to him, there is one mark he has so far not called his own, that of most races in the sport owned by Italian Ricardo Patrese with 256.

Schumacher has 236 and would have 249 if he competes in every race for the rest of the season - leaving him just eight races shy of a record in this area as well.

Whether he will have a shot at the mark will be decided by the German Grand Prix on July 30 at the latest.

"By then he will have decided which path to take, whether he will quit or continue," Weber said.