Schumi plus Ferrari equal to eternal love
The prose, written on sheets visible in the stands of the Autodroma Nazionale, had seldom been this melancholic. It was as if the Ferraristi expected something to happen. “Michele, for us you will always be number one” was written on the banners, or “red in the eye, Schumi in the heart” and “Schumi plus Ferrari equal to eternal love”. The Formula 1 fans have the right intuition on this 10th of September 2006, even before the announcement of Michael’s official resignation. The end of the Italian Grand Prix also marked the end of an epoch: After 16 years, Formel Schumi should come to an end for the time being, the end of the season also meaning the end of an era for Ferrari, the most successful epoch a Formula 1 driver ever had together with his team.
On this racing Sunday ten years ago, Michael’s 90th Grand Prix victory was celebrated, but during the victory lap he announced his resignation to the team by radio message, which he had decided for himself in July. He could not have picked a better place than the Autodromo Nationale for his farewell, three races prior to the end of the racing season. While the Tifosi outside were still blowing their victory horns, at exactly 15:00, 37 minutes and 17 seconds, the seven-time World Champion sealed his resignation to the end of season. Not only a historic moment in the history of Formula 1, but, as known by Ferrari Team Chief Jean Todt, “the conclusion of a once-in-a-lifetime chapter”.
On the winner’s podium, as he almost fatherly like lays his hand on his successor Kimi Räikkönens shoulder, Michael had almost looked relieved. The pitch of his voice inevitably slipped into a minor key as he spoke into the microphone in English language: “It is a special day and I am happy to be able to celebrate it in this way. We have discussed this for a long time. It was the hardest decision of my life. The team left the decision completely up to me, in the end it was decided between Corinna and myself. It was important to find the right moment. However, I feel that this moment has come. I feel sadness, but all fans and friends have the right to hear: This was my last race in Monza, I will quit at the end of this season!”