OCTOBER 4, 2001
Hakkinen analyses Schumacher
MIKA HAKKINEN, bound for a sabbatical year from F1, has told the German racing magazine Auto Moto und Sport that he sees signs that Michael Schumacher may be beginning to consider retirement. "I see certain signs that lead me to doubt whether he will continue driving for a long time," Hakkinen said. "He has children. He has had his success. He has had his accidents. And after every accident you start doing more thinking. You know at some point you won't get away without damage. It doesn't matter how much you love the sport -- Michael too will ask himself sooner or later: how long is this to go on for?"
Hakkinen is not the kind of character to be trying to undermine Schumacher and his comments can be seen as an honest reflection of the man himself. It is quite normal for drivers over 30 to begin to take fewer risks. They have enough money and they often have families and their enthusiasm for the F1 life tends to dim. They also tend to become less willing to accept pressure from the team bosses and F1 bosses as they understand that they have a major value to the World Championship which the promoters can turn into money.
Schumacher will be very aware of the fact that Ayrton Senna was just beginning to relax and become a more rounded person when he was killed and he will be balancing up the fact that he has broken most of F1's records and does not really need to go on. The arrival of real challenger to his authority (which may come next year with Juan Pablo Montoya or perhaps Kimi Raikkonen) could be the trigger for a retirement as Michael has said in the past that when he feels there is someone there who can beat him he may stop.
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