After questions, a full stop

Micheal Schumacher achieved more than any other driver in F1 but the winner of a record seven world championships and 91 Grand Prix could not beat time, however, hard he raced.

Announcing his second, and seemingly final, retirement at the Japanese Grand Prix on Thursday, the German acknowledged that it was time to go at the end of the season in November.

The Schumacher Mark II, now 43 years old and driving a suitably silver Mercedes, has become a scuffed shadow of the shiny Mark I model who dominated racetracks around the world in the colours of Benetton and Ferrari. "I have decided to retire by the end of the year," he told reporters.

His truly remarkable career will stand as a drama in two parts, with a three-year intermission, that some will see as an entirely fitting outcome for a driver who also divided the sport like few others. Back in 2006, when Schumacher informed the world that he would be retiring as a Ferrari driver at a Monza news conference after the Italian Grand Prix, it seemed like the end of an era.

A bouquet of records

He had a string of records to his name, including finishing every race on the podium in 2002 and winning the title with six races to spare. In 2004, he chalked up a record 13 wins with seven of them in a row. Thursday's announcement did not seem as momentous after three disappointing comeback years with Mercedes in which he has so far produced just one podium finish — and that a third place this year.

The man who was supposed to lead the 'Silver Arrows' works Mercedes back to the top of the podium was a mere spectator when team mate Nico Rosberg — 26 at the time — secured the long-desired win in China this year. There has been a question mark over Schumacher's future all season and he said on Thursday, after replacing it with a full stop, that he felt released from his own doubts.

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