For the first time, Michael Schumacher has reflected that he could elect to cut short his three-year F1 return with Mercedes Grand Prix and hang up his helmet again come the end of the current campaign, conceding that 'if anything, I am the problem'.
Schumacher's top flight comeback has fallen a long way short of expectations since he rejoined the grand prix grid in Bahrain in March of last year. In the interceding 30 races, there have been no rostrum finishes – and this for a driver who during his 'original' F1 career, tore up all the record books with seven world championship crowns, no fewer than 91 victories and 154 podiums.
Worse still, 'Schumi' has found himself routinely outpaced and outperformed by young Mercedes team-mate and compatriot Nico Rosberg, who over the past season-and-a-half has tallied 190 points to the elder German's 104. Even more uncharacteristically for the most successful driver in the sport's long history, there have been all manner of misjudgements and mistakes that he never used to commit.
Despite having a contract in-place for 2012, Schumacher now admits that his presence is perhaps not what the struggling Brackley-based outfit needs right now, and with impressive Force India rookie – and long-time Mercedes protégé
– Paul di Resta ostensibly being groomed to eventually replace him, he confesses that retirement could be beckoning once more.
“I arrived at Mercedes with a specific task – not winning at all costs, but to grow the team,” the 42-year-old told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
. “If anything, I am the problem. It is a fact that I am a bit more relaxed than before, and I do not know if my mindset is right for this team. At some point, we will evaluate whether I continue or stop.”