Thu, Oct 19, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Schumacher says he can't wait for his Sunday finale

AFP AND DPA , BERLIN AND HAMBURG

Michael Schumacher admits he cannot wait for his final race in Formula One this Sunday and said he was glad that it was on the challenging Interlagos track in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"My last race is in Brazil and I have to say that I am glad it is at this location," Schumacher said on his Web site.

"Interlagos has its own charm and I have always enjoyed driving there -- perhaps because the course is not too easy," he said.

"It is well known that the track is different to all the others and there is a huge physical burden. It is often uneven and you have to do a lot of work with the car. I like things like that as the race becomes very interesting," Schumacher said.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher has conceded defeat in the drivers' championship, but if the Ferrari driver wins in Brazil and Spaniard Fernando Alonso fails to gain a point, he will pick up his eighth crown.

"The Ferrari team has a good chance in Brazil and over the past few years I have had Brazilian colleagues to offer advice and support," Schumacher said.

"All in all we have every reason to look forward to this race. It would be great to win my final race and the perfect way to sign off," he added.

The 37-year-old Schumacher has been racing in Formula One for close to 16 years and is the most successful driver in history winning seven titles.

The German won back-to-back titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 before collecting five crowns in a row with Ferrari from 2000 onwards.

That has earned him respect but he has never been adored in a career spanning 249 races since the Aug. 25, 1991, Formula One debut at the Belgian GP in Spa-Francorchamps in a Lotus.

Only a handful of fans were on hand to welcome Germany's first ever F1 world champion at Frankfurt airport in 1994. At the same time thousands came to Heathrow to welcome the British second-place finisher Damon Hill.

Schumacher was elected German Sportsman of the Year just twice, in 1995 and 2004. That in a country where motorways have no speed limits.

Some hold a grudge against Schumacher for celebrating on the podium in Imola in 1994 after winning the San Marino Grand Prix in which Ayrton Senna died.

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