Bernie Ecclestone believe Michael Schumacher shouldn't have returned to F1 for his three-year spell with Mercedes – saying he would rather have seen the German bow out for good when he first quit the sport back in 2006.
The 43-year-old left Ferrari as a seven-time champion to head into retirement before being persuaded to return by Mercedes in 2010; inking a three-year deal to lead the team that was born out of Brawn GP.
It proved to be a difficult return however, with a third place finish in Valencia earlier this season being the only podium finish he was able to add to his resume before announcing he would retire for a second time at the end of 2012.
Speaking in an interview on the official F1 website, Ecclestone said he wishes Schumacher had elected not to make his return thanks to that lack of success, arguing that newer fans will only remember him for his results in recent years and not for the success he enjoyed with Benetton and Ferrari.
“I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now,” the commercial rights holder said. “People new to the sport - people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently - will remember Michael now, not as he was. They don't see the hero that he was but the human that can fail. We will miss Michael, because even though he wasn't winning races in those three years, he is still very popular.
“I think the important thing is - and this is probably difficult - to know when you can't do what you used to do anymore and then hand it over to somebody else. I hope that's what I can do: when I feel I can't deliver, I will certainly say goodbye.”
Ecclestone added that Schumacher now had the kind of future ahead of him that most could only wish for.
“He doesn't have to work, he doesn't have to worry and he can do what he wants to do,” he said. “Doesn't that sound good?”