Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn has paid tribute to Michael Schumacher after the German announced that he is to retire from F1 for a second time at the end of the year.
The 43-year-old announced on Thursday at Suzuka that he was to leave the sport after being replaced by Lewis Hamilton
for the 2013 season despite having been linked with a possible switch to Sauber for next year.
Speaking after Schumacher's announcement, Brawn – who also worked alongside the German at Benetton and Ferrari – paid tribute to the seven-time champion and said he had done a lot behind the scenes to help move his current team forwards.
“I think he's the greatest racing driver of this century," Brawn was quoted by ESPNF1
. "And I was very privileged to work with Michael from the very beginning. Obviously I had some fantastic times, tough times, but also very successful times. I think Michael brought a lot to the team in this second period that people don't see; huge contribution behind the scenes.
“We haven't achieved what we wanted to achieve together and that's frustrating but I think what we do achieve in the future Michael will have made a contribution to it. So for me personally, the greatest racing driver of this century."
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug was also full of praise for Schumacher following his announcement.
“We all had the dream to work together, that opportunity came when Brawn GP with a Mercedes engine won the championship as you know that story,” he said. “Ross did a good job in talking to Michael and of course our plan was to build something up; I think we did not achieve what we wanted to achieve so far but the foundations are there and I really have to thank Michael deep from my heart, and this is really on behalf of everybody in Mercedes-Benz and Daimler.
"He gave it everything, he was never complaining, he was a constructive guy to the outside, to the inside. I learned from this new Michael in the second career even more than the first because he was successful - we were and are friends - but I admired very much how he pushed the team in a very constructive and positive manner. And of course there have been races like China when it could have happened, but it was his wheelnut and I did not wish it was a wheelnut for Nico [Rosberg] but you all can imagine what could have happened. But this does not count at the end.
“But I tell you, a guy who is capable of doing the pole position time at Monaco is still really on it, and that's what I admire, what Ross admires, what everyone in the team admires on Michael; he gave to our team and I'm sure these are very, very important foundations for the future for us."