Michael Schumacher has again played down suggestions that he may be poised to bring the curtain down on his F1 career for the second time, insisting that he is looking no further forward than this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
The German is in the third and final year of his contract with Mercedes, and his lack of results has begun to see other names being linked with his seat. While sections of the media report that team principal Ross Brawn says the team needs to take the blame for limiting Schumacher's performance, the seven-time world champion continues to face questions about his future.
The German was present at last weekend's French MotoGP round, when reigning champion Casey Stoner stunned the paddock by announcing that he would be quitting the sport at the end of the season, but insisted that their reasons for stepping back were different.
“My feeling is that most of those who have a little bit of involvement [in the sport] were surprised [by Stoner's decision],” he admitted, “So was I, but then you have to respect that. I don't know his reasons - or his detailed reason - but he's young enough to have a sabbatical rather than a total stop.
“There's definitely no parallel to me; it's just that each one is very individual, why and for what reason he decides on his retirement. Mine, at the time, had nothing to do with any other reason than I wanted it to because I felt like I was tired, three years ago. That's it.”
Despite suggesting that Stoner take a sabbatical – as his own 'retirement' proved to be – Schumacher was again forced to dismiss talk of his own future.
“So far, we're not focusing on what happens next year, or in the future,” he told journalists at the Monaco Grand Prix, “It's more about what happens right now and the team and myself will get together, so there's no news for you yet, unfortunately. I don't really want to get involved in deep discussion other than what I just said, so let's leave it at that.”
The 43-year old also played down the reports of Brawn taking the blame for his lack of results in 2012, suggesting that Lady Luck had had more to do with his two-point haul from five races.
“I don't agree with maybe the translation of it, because I think we have quite a good car, quite honestly,” he insisted, “If you think where we're coming from last year, we have made a huge step forward. We have proven that we are able to win races.