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Win title and go, manager tells Schumi
July 31, 2006 13:02 IST
Michael Schumacher's manager Willi Weber has told the Ferrari great to retire if he wins his record eighth Formula One championship this season.
"I am not only his manager, I am also his long-time friend. If we win the title, I think it's time to retire," Weber told Reuters before Schumacher won the German Grand Prix on Sunday to slash Fernando Alonso's overall lead to 11 points.
"This is my advice," the German continued.
"He can always do what he wants. But it is my advice and we will see what he is doing.
"He asked me 'What do you think I should do?' and then I gave him the answer, a real open answer.
"I said that when you win the championship then I think it's time to say goodbye, because this is the top level where you want to go. Otherwise you just can hurt yourself. I have told him that."
Schumacher, 37, is the oldest driver on the starting grid and his contract with Ferrari expires at the end of the season.
His future is the object of constant speculation, with a sequence of driver moves hanging on whether the most successful driver in the history of the sport decides to call it a day or continue.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt has said the team plan to announce their 2007 lineup at their home Italian Grand Prix in September although the championship outcome now looks certain to remain open beyond then.
The Italian team have been strongly linked to McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, although Renault are also chasing the Finn and McLaren want to retain him, and also have Brazilian Felipe Massa under contract.
Winner of a record 89 races, and with 151 podium appearances, Schumacher is locked in a fierce battle with Renault's world champion Alonso.
With six races remaining, the title battle is on a knife-edge with Schumacher having the momentum after winning the last three Grands Prix.
Paddock sentiment has started swinging towards the expectation that he will continue for another year or two.
Weber suggested that Schumacher's decision would be less to do with his current performances than his state of mind and family considerations.
"He's like red wine, he's getting better and better," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's his decision and it's not easy for him to make the decision to continue or to stop.
"It [the announcement] will still be at Monza, nothing has changed. When you know Michael and he says Monza, it is Monza," he added.
The vast majority of the Hockenheim crowd, red-shirted and blasting out support for their idol with air-horns and roars of applause at every glimpse, were praying for him to continue.
"It's something different," said Weber of the atmosphere.
"To come here every year is something special, you come into the motodrome and the crowds are screaming. It's a fantastic feeling how the fans are backing him."
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