Michael Schumacher's family are hoping for a 'medical miracle' and are receiving some form of communication from the F1 legend, German media reports.
A family friend claims the racing champion is 'sending signals from his distant world' as he is cared for in their home in Geneva, Switzerland.
Schumacher suffered a head injury while skiing in the French Alps in December 2013 and has since been unable to walk or speak.
Hope: A family friend of Michael Schumacher claims the racing champion is communicating with his wife and children, despite being unable to speak since the 2013 accident
The unnamed source was quoted in German magazine Brunte as saying Schumacher's toned physique is helping do 'well in the circumstances'.
'Corinna and the children [Mick, 18 and Gina, 20] hope to this day that a medical miracle happens.'
The seven-time world champion was put into a medically induced coma for six months after the incident in the French Alps.
Doctors operated to remove blood clots from his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded.
Medics described his condition as 'extremely serious' after his admission to Grenoble Hospital, where he underwent two life-saving operations.
Hope: Schumacher's wife Corinna and their two children Mick, 18, and Gina, 20, reportedly 'hope to this day that a medical miracle happens'
Three months later a statement was released confirming that the F1 champion was no longer in a coma and had left Grenoble Hospital.
Schumacher, who remains immobile and cannot speak, is understood to have a 15-strong team of medics looking after him at his home in Geneva, Switzerland.
In December 2016, a statement from his manager, Sabine Kehm, said: 'Michael's health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard.
Tragic: Schumacher suffered a head injury while skiing in the French Alps in 2013
'We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere.'
The statement continued: 'Michael has always been very protective of his privacy, even during the most successful times of his career.
'He has always made sure there is a clear and distinct line between his public persona and his private one.'
But his former teammate Johnny Herbert has revealed the F1 legend has 'good days and bad days'.
Friend Ross Brawn gas said: 'The family are conducting his convalescence in private and I need to respect that.
'So I don't want to comment on his condition beyond saying we're extremely hopeful we'll see Michael as we knew him at some point in the future.'
Schumacher is believed to have been worth £500 million before the accident.
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For the American politician, see Michael Shoemaker. For the Luxembourgian athlete, see Mike Schumacher.
Schumacher at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix
|Born||(1969-01-03) 3 January 1969 (age 49)|
Hürth, West Germany
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1991–2006, 2010–2012|
|Teams||Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes|
|Entries||308 (306 starts)|
|Championships||7 (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)|
|First entry||1991 Belgian Grand Prix|
|First win||1992 Belgian Grand Prix|
|Last win||2006 Chinese Grand Prix|
|Last entry||2012 Brazilian Grand Prix|
Michael Schumacher (German pronunciation:[ˈmɪçaʔɛl ˈʃuːmaxɐ] ( listen); born 3 January 1969) is a retired German racing driver who raced in Formula One for Jordan Grand Prix, Benetton and Ferrari, where he spent the majority of his career, as well as for Mercedes upon his return to the sport. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers ever, and regarded by some as the greatest of all time, Schumacher is the only driver in history to win seven Formula One World Championships, five of which he won consecutively. The most successful driver in the history of the sport, Schumacher holds the records for the most World Championship titles (7), the most Grand Prix wins (91), the most fastest laps (77) and the most races won in a single season (13), and according to the official Formula One website, Schumacher is "statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen".
After success in karting as a child, Schumacher won titles in Formula König and Formula Three before joining Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship. In 1991, his Mercedes-funded race debut for the Jordan Formula One team resulted in Schumacher being signed by Benetton for the rest of that season. He finished third in 1992 and fourth in 1993, before becoming the first German World Drivers' Champion in 1994 by one point over Damon Hill. In 1995 he repeated the success, this time with a greater margin. In 1996, Schumacher moved to Ferrari, who had last won the Drivers' Championship in 1979, and helped them transform into the most successful team in Formula One history, as he came close to winning the 1997 and 1998 titles, before breaking his leg at the 1999 British Grand Prix, ending another title run.
Schumacher won five consecutive drivers' titles from 2000 to 2004, including an unprecedented sixth and seventh title. In 2002, Schumacher won the title with a record six races remaining and finished on the podium in every race. In 2004, Schumacher won twelve out of the first thirteen races and went on to win a record 13 times as he won his final title. Schumacher retired from Formula One in 2006, after finishing runner-up to Renault's Fernando Alonso. Schumacher returned to Formula One in 2010 with Mercedes. He produced the fastest qualifying time at the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, and achieved his only podium on his return at the 2012 European Grand Prix, where he finished third. In October 2012, Schumacher announced he would retire for a second time at the end of the season.
His career was not without controversy, as he was twice involved in collisions in the final race of a season that determined the outcome of the World Championship, with Damon Hill in 1994 in Adelaide, and with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 in Jerez. Schumacher is an ambassador for UNESCO and has been involved in numerous humanitarian efforts throughout his life, donating tens of millions of dollars to charity. Schumacher and his younger brother, Ralf, are the only siblings to win races in Formula One, and they were the first brothers to finish 1st and 2nd in the same race, a feat they repeated in four subsequent races.
In December 2013, Schumacher suffered a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident. He was placed in a medically induced coma for six months until 16 June 2014. He left the hospital in Grenoble for further rehabilitation at the University Hospital of Lausanne. On 9 September 2014, Schumacher was relocated to his home where he continues to receive medical treatment and rehabilitation privately.
Schumacher was born in Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia, to Rolf Schumacher, a bricklayer, and his wife Elisabeth. When Schumacher was four, his father modified his pedal kart by adding a small motorcycle engine. When Schumacher crashed it into a lamp post in Kerpen, his parents took him to the karting track at Kerpen-Horrem, where he became the youngest member of the karting club. His father soon built him a kart from discarded parts and at the age of six Schumacher won his first club championship. To support his son's racing, Rolf Schumacher took on a second job renting and repairing karts, while his wife worked at the track's canteen. Nevertheless, when Michael needed a new engine costing 800 DM, his parents were unable to afford it; he was able to continue racing with support from local businessmen.
Regulations in Germany require a driver to be at least fourteen years old to obtain a kart license. To get around this, Schumacher obtained a license in Luxembourg at the age of 12.
In 1983, he obtained his German license, a year after he won the German Junior Kart Championship. From 1984 on, Schumacher won many German and European kart championships. He joined Eurokart dealer Adolf Neubert in 1985 and by 1987 he was the German and European kart champion, then he quit school and began working as a mechanic. In 1988 he made his first step into single-seat car racing by participating in the German Formula Ford and Formula König series, winning the latter.
In 1989, Schumacher signed with Willi Weber's WTS Formula Three team. Funded by Weber, he competed in the German Formula 3 series, winning the title in 1990. He also won the Macau Grand Prix. At the end of 1990, along with his Formula 3 rivals Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, he joined the Mercedes junior racing programme in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. This was unusual for a young driver: most of Schumacher's contemporaries would compete in Formula 3000 on the way to Formula One. However, Weber advised Schumacher that being exposed to professional press conferences and driving powerful cars in long distance races would help his career. In the 1990 World Sportscar Championship season, Schumacher won the season finale at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in a Sauber–Mercedes C11, and finished fifth in the drivers' championship despite only driving in three of the nine races. He continued with the team in the 1991 World Sportscar Championship season, winning again at the final race of the season at Autopolis in Japan with a Sauber–Mercedes-Benz C291, leading to a ninth-place finish in the drivers' championship. He also competed at Le Mans during that season, finishing 5th in a car shared with Karl Wendlinger and Fritz Kreutzpointner. In 1991, he competed in one race in the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship, finishing second.
Formula One career
Schumacher was noted throughout his career for his ability to produce fast laps at crucial moments in a race and to push his car to the very limit for sustained periods. Motor sport author Christopher Hilton observed in 2003 that a "measure of a driver's capabilities is his performance in wet races, because the most delicate car control and sensitivity are needed", and noted that like other great drivers, Schumacher's record in wet conditions shows very few mistakes: up to the end of the 2003 season, Schumacher won 17 of the 30 races in wet conditions he contested. Some of Schumacher's best performances occurred in such conditions, earning him the nicknames "Regenkönig" (rain king) or "Regenmeister" (rain master), even in the non-German-language media. He is known as "the Red Baron", because of his red Ferrari and in reference to the German Manfred von Richthofen, the famous flying ace of World War I. Schumacher's nicknames include "Schumi", "Schuey" and "Schu". Schumacher is often credited with popularising Formula One in Germany, where it was formerly considered a fringe sport. When Schumacher retired in 2006, three of the top ten drivers were German, more than any other nationality and more than have ever been present in Formula One history. Younger German drivers, such as Sebastian Vettel, felt Schumacher was key in their becoming Formula One drivers. In the latter part of his Formula One career, and as one of the senior drivers, Schumacher was the president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. In a 2006 FIA survey, Michael Schumacher was voted the most popular driver of the season among Formula One fans.
Schumacher made his Formula One debut with the Jordan-Ford team at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, driving car number 32 as a replacement for the imprisoned Bertrand Gachot. Schumacher, still a contracted Mercedes driver, was signed by Eddie Jordan after Mercedes paid Jordan $150,000 for his debut.
Belgian Grand Prix debut
The week before the race, Schumacher impressed Jordan designer Gary Anderson and team manager Trevor Foster during a test drive at Silverstone. His manager Willi Weber assured Jordan that Schumacher knew the challenging Spa track well, although in fact he had only seen it as a spectator. During the race weekend, teammate Andrea de Cesaris was meant to show Schumacher the circuit, but was held up with contract negotiations. Schumacher then learned the track on his own, by cycling around the track on a fold-up bike he had brought with him. He impressed the paddock by qualifying seventh in this race. This matched the team's season-best grid position, and out-qualified 11-year veteran de Cesaris. Motorsport journalist Joe Saward reported that after qualifying "clumps of German journalists were talking about 'the best talent since Stefan Bellof'". Schumacher retired on the first lap of the race with clutch problems.
Following his Belgian Grand Prix debut, and despite an agreement in principle between Jordan and Schumacher's Mercedes management that would see the German race for the Irish team for the remainder of the season, Schumacher was engaged by Benetton-Ford for the following race. Jordan applied for an injunction in the UK courts to prevent Schumacher driving for Benetton, but lost the case as they had not yet signed a final contract.
Schumacher finished the 1991 season with four points out of six races. His best finish was fifth in his second race, the Italian Grand Prix, in which he finished ahead of his team-mate and three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet.
At the start of the 1992 season the Sauber team, planning their Formula One debut with Mercedes backing for the following year, invoked a clause in Schumacher's contract that stated that if Mercedes entered Formula One, Schumacher would drive for them. It was eventually agreed that Schumacher would stay with Benetton, Peter Sauber said that "[Schumacher] didn't want to drive for us. Why would I have forced him?". The year was dominated by the Williams of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese, featuring powerful Renault engines, semi-automatic gearboxes and active suspension to control the car's ride height. In the "conventional" Benetton B192 Schumacher took his place on the podium for the first time, finishing third in the Mexican Grand Prix. He went on to take his first victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, in a wet race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which by 2003 he would call "far and away my favourite track". He finished third in the Drivers' Championship in 1992 with 53 points, three points behind runner-up Patrese.
The Williams of Damon Hill and Alain Prost also dominated the 1993 season. Benetton introduced their own active suspension and traction control early in the season, last of the frontrunning teams to do so. Schumacher won one race, the Portuguese Grand Prix where he beat Prost, and had nine podium finishes, but retired in seven of the other 15 races. He finished the season in fourth, with 52 points.
1994–1995: World Championship years
The 1994 season was Schumacher's first Drivers' Championship. The season, however, was marred by the deaths of Ayrton Senna (witnessed by Schumacher, who was directly behind in 2nd position) and Roland Ratzenberger during the San Marino Grand Prix, and by allegations that several teams, but most particularly Schumacher's Benetton team, broke the sport's technical regulations.
Schumacher won six of the first seven races and was leading the Spanish Grand Prix, before a gearbox failure left him stuck in fifth gear. Schumacher finished the race in second place. Following the San Marino Grand Prix, the Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren teams were investigated on suspicion of breaking the FIA-imposed ban on electronic aids. Benetton and McLaren initially refused to hand over their source code for investigation. When they did so, the FIA discovered hidden functionality in both teams' software, but no evidence that it had been used in a race. Both teams were fined $100,000 for their initial refusal to cooperate. However, the McLaren software, which was a gearbox program that allowed automatic shifts, was deemed legal. By contrast, the Benetton software was deemed to be a form of "launch control" that would have allowed Schumacher to make perfect starts, which was explicitly outlawed by the regulations. However, there was no evidence to suggest that this software was actually used. At the British Grand Prix, Schumacher was penalised for overtaking on the formation lap. He then ignored the penalty and the subsequent black flag, which indicates that the driver must immediately return to the pits, for which he was disqualified and later given a two-race ban. Benetton blamed the incident on a communication error between the stewards and the team. Schumacher was also disqualified after winning the Belgian Grand Prix after his car was found to have illegal wear on its skidblock, a measure used after the accidents at Imola to limit downforce and hence cornering speed. Benetton protested that the skidblock had been damaged when Schumacher spun over a kerb, but the FIA rejected their appeal because of the pattern of wear and damage visible on the block. These incidents helped Damon Hill close the points gap, and Schumacher led by a single point going into the final race in Australia. On lap 36 Schumacher hit the guardrail on the outside of the track while leading. Hill attempted to pass, but as Schumacher's car returned to the track there was a collision on the corner causing them both to retire. As a result, Schumacher won a very controversial championship, the first German to do so (Jochen Rindt raced under the Austrian flag). At the FIA conference after the race, the new World Champion dedicated his title to Ayrton Senna.
In 1995 Schumacher successfully defended his title with Benetton. He now had the same Renault engine as Williams. He accumulated 33 more points than second-placed Damon Hill. With teammate Johnny Herbert, he took Benetton to its first Constructors' Championship and became the youngest two-time World Champion in Formula One history.
The season was marred by several collisions with Hill, in particular an overtaking manoeuvre by Hill took them both out of the British Grand Prix on lap 45 and again on lap 23 of the Italian Grand Prix. Schumacher won nine of the 17 races, and finished on the podium 11 times. Only once did he qualify worse than fourth; at the Belgian Grand Prix, he qualified 16th, but nevertheless went on to win the race.
In 1996, Schumacher joined Ferrari, a team that had last won the Drivers' Championship in 1979 and the Constructors' Championship in 1983, for a salary of $60 million over 2 years. He left Benetton a year before his contract with them expired; he later cited the team's damaging actions in 1994 as his reason for opting out of his deal. A year later Benetton employees Rory Byrne (designer) and Ross Brawn (Technical Director) joined Ferrari.
Ferrari had previously come close to the championship in 1982 and 1990. The team had suffered a disastrous downturn in the early 1990s, partially as its famous V12 engine was no longer competitive against the smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient V10s of its competitors. Various drivers, notably Alain Prost, had given the vehicles labels such as "truck", "pig", and "accident waiting to happen". Furthermore, the poor performance of the Ferrari pit crews was considered a running joke. At the end of 1995, though the team had improved into a solid competitor, it was still considered inferior to front-running teams such as Benetton and Williams. Schumacher declared the Ferrari 412T good enough to win the Championship.
Schumacher, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, and Jean Todt (hired in 1993), have been credited as turning this once struggling team into the most successful team in Formula One history. Three-time World Champion Jackie Stewart believes the transformation of the Ferrari team was Schumacher's greatest feat.Eddie Irvine also joined the team, moving from Jordan. During winter testing, Schumacher first drove a Ferrari, their 1995 Ferrari 412 T2, and was two seconds faster than former regulars Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger had been.
Schumacher finished third in the Drivers' Championship in 1996 and helped Ferrari to second place in the Constructors' Championship ahead of his old team Benetton. He won three races, more than the team's total tally for the period from 1991 to 1995. Early in the 1996 season the car had reliability trouble and Schumacher did not finish six of the 16 races. He took his first win for Ferrari at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he lapped the entire field up to third place in the wet. Having taken the lead on lap 19, he consistently lapped five seconds faster than the rest of the field in the difficult conditions. In the French Grand Prix Schumacher qualified in pole position, but suffered engine failure on the race's formation lap. However at Spa-Francorchamps, Schumacher used well-timed pit-stops to fend off Williams's Jacques Villeneuve. Following that, at Monza, Schumacher won in front of the tifosi. Schumacher's ability, combined with the improving reliability of Ferrari, enabled him to end the season putting up a challenge to eventual race and championship winner Damon Hill at the Suzuka.
Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve vied for the title in 1997. Villeneuve, driving the superior Williams FW19, led the championship in the early part of the season. However, by mid-season, Schumacher had taken the championship lead, winning five races, and entered the season's final Grand Prix with a one-point advantage. Towards the end of the race, held at Jerez, Schumacher's Ferrari developed a coolant leak and loss of performance indicating he may not finish the race. As Villeneuve approached to pass his rival, Schumacher attempted to provoke an accident, but got the short end of the stick, retiring from the race. Villeneuve went on and scored four points to take the championship. Schumacher was punished for unsportsmanlike conduct for the collision and was disqualified from the Drivers' Championship.
In 1998, Finnish driver Mika Häkkinen became Schumacher's main title competition. Häkkinen won the first two races of the season, gaining a 16-point advantage over Schumacher. Schumacher then won in Argentina and, with the Ferrari improving significantly in the second half of the season, Schumacher took six victories and had five other podium finishes. Ferrari took a 1–2 finish at the French Grand Prix, the first Ferrari 1–2 finish since 1990, and the Italian Grand Prix, which tied Schumacher with Häkkinen for the lead of the Drivers' Championship with 80 points, but Häkkinen won the Championship by winning the final two races. There were two controversies; at the British Grand Prix Schumacher was leading on the last lap when he turned into the pit lane, crossed the start finish line and stopped for a ten-second stop go penalty. There was some doubt whether this counted as serving the penalty, but, because he had crossed the finish line when he came into the pit lane, the win was valid. At Spa, Schumacher was leading the race by 40 seconds in heavy spray, but collided with David Coulthard's McLaren when the Scot, a lap down, slowed in very poor visibility to let Schumacher past. After both cars returned to the pits, Schumacher leaped out of his car and headed to McLaren's garage in an infuriated manner and accused Coulthard of trying to kill him. Coulthard admitted five years later that the accident had been his mistake.
Rumours circulated that Coulthard may be replaced by Schumacher for the 1999 season and beyond and, in a previous edition of the F1 Racing magazine, Ron Dennis revealed that he had approached Schumacher to sign a deal with McLaren. However, peripheral financial issues that tied Schumacher with Ferrari, such as sponsorship agreements and payment, could not be rectified in a move to the rival team and so no deal came to fruition.
Schumacher's efforts helped Ferrari win the Constructors title in 1999. He lost his chance to win the Drivers' Championship at the British Grand Prix at the high-speed Stowe Corner, his car's rear brake failed, sending him off the track and resulting in a broken leg. During his 98-day absence, he was replaced by Finnish driver Mika Salo. After missing six races he made his return at the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix, qualifying in pole position by almost a second. He then assumed the role of second driver, assisting teammate Eddie Irvine's bid to win the Drivers' Championship for Ferrari. In the last race of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix, Häkkinen won his second consecutive title. Schumacher would later say that Häkkinen was the opponent he respected the most.
2000–2004: World Championship years
During this period Schumacher won more races and championships than any other driver in the history of the sport. Schumacher won his third World Championship in 2000 after a year-long battle with Häkkinen. Schumacher won the first three races of the season and five of the first eight. Midway through the year, Schumacher's chances suffered with three consecutive non-finishes, allowing Häkkinen to close the gap in the standings. Häkkinen then took another two victories, before Schumacher won at the Italian Grand Prix. At the post race press conference, after equalling the number of wins (41) won by his idol, Ayrton Senna, Schumacher broke into tears. The championship fight would come down to the penultimate race of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix. Starting from pole position, Schumacher lost the lead to Häkkinen at the start. After his second pit-stop, however, Schumacher came out ahead of Häkkinen and went on to win the race and the championship.
In 2001, Schumacher took his fourth drivers' title. Four other drivers won races, but none sustained a season-long challenge for the championship. Schumacher scored a record-tying nine wins and clinched the World Championship with four races yet to run. He finished the championship with 123 points, 58 ahead of runner-up Coulthard. Season highlights included the Canadian Grand Prix, where Schumacher finished 2nd to his brother Ralf, thus scoring the first ever 1–2 finish by brothers in Formula One; and the Belgian Grand Prix in which Schumacher scored his 52nd career win, breaking Alain Prost's record for most career wins.
In 2002, Schumacher used the Ferrari F2002 to retain his Drivers' Championship. There was again some controversy, however, at the Austrian Grand Prix, where his teammate, Rubens Barrichello was leading, but in the final metres of the race, under team orders, slowed down to allow Schumacher to win the race. The crowd broke into outraged boos at the result and Schumacher tried to make amends by allowing Barrichello to stand on the top step of the podium. At the United States Grand Prix later that year, Schumacher dominated the race and was set for a close finish with Barrichello. At the end he slowed down to create a formation finish with Barrichello, but slowed too much allowing Barrichello to take the victory. In winning the Drivers' Championship he equalled the record set by Juan Manuel Fangio of five World Championships. Ferrari won 15 out of 17 races, and Schumacher won the title with six races remaining in the season, which is still the earliest point in the season for a driver to be crowned World Champion. Schumacher broke his own record, shared with Nigel Mansell, of nine race wins in a season, by winning eleven times and finishing every race on the podium. He finished with 144 points, a record-breaking 67 points ahead of the runner-up, his teammate Rubens Barrichello. This pair finished nine of the 17 races in the first two places.
Schumacher broke Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five World Drivers' Championships by winning the drivers' title for the sixth time in 2003, a closely contested season. The biggest competition came once again from the McLaren Mercedes and Williams BMW teams. In the first race, Schumacher ran off track, and in the following two, was involved in collisions. He fell 16 points behind Kimi Räikkönen. Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix and the next two races, and closed within two points of Räikkönen. Aside from Schumacher's victory in Canada, and Barrichello's victory in Britain, the mid-season was dominated by Williams drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, who each claimed two victories. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher led Montoya and Kimi Räikkönen by only one and two points, respectively. Ahead of the next race, the FIA announced changes to the way tyre widths were to be measured: this forced Michelin, supplier to Williams and McLaren among others, to rapidly redesign their tyres before the Italian Grand Prix. Schumacher, running on Bridgestone tyres, won the next two races. After Montoya was penalised in the United States Grand Prix, only Schumacher and Räikkönen remained in contention for the title. At the final round, the Japanese Grand Prix, Schumacher needed only one point whilst Räikkönen needed to win. By finishing the race in eighth place, Schumacher took one point and assured his sixth World Drivers' title, ending the season two points ahead of Räikkönen.
In 2004, Schumacher won a record twelve of the first thirteen races of the season, only failing to finish in Monaco after an accident with Juan Pablo Montoya during a safety car period when he briefly locked his car's brakes. He clinched a record seventh drivers' title at the Belgian Grand Prix. He finished that season with a record 148 points, 34 points ahead of the runner-up, teammate Rubens Barrichello, and set a new record of 13 race wins out of a possible 18, surpassing his previous best of 11 wins from the 2002 season.
Rule changes for the 2005 season required tyres to last an entire race, tipping the overall advantage to teams using Michelins over teams such as Ferrari that relied on Bridgestone tyres. The rule changes were partly in an effort to dent Ferrari's dominance and make the series more interesting. The most notable moment of the early season for Schumacher was his battle with Fernando Alonso in San Marino, where he started 13th and finished only 0.2 seconds behind the Spanish driver. Less than halfway through the season, Schumacher said "I don't think I can count myself in this battle any more. It was like trying to fight with a blunted weapon.... If your weapons are weak you don't have a chance." Schumacher's sole win in 2005 came at the United States Grand Prix. Prior to that race, the Michelin tyres were found to have significant safety issues. When no compromise between the teams and the FIA could be reached, all but the six drivers using Bridgestone tyres dropped out of the race after the formation lap. Schumacher retired in six of the 19 races. He finished the season in third with 62 points, fewer than half the points of World Champion Alonso.
2006 became the last season of Schumacher's Ferrari career. After three races, Schumacher had just 11 points and was already 17 points behind Alonso. He won the following two races. His pole position at San Marino was his 66th, breaking Ayrton Senna's 12-year-old record.
Schumacher was stripped of pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix and started the race at the back of the grid. This was due to his stopping his car and blocking part of the circuit while Alonso was on his qualifying lap; he still managed to work his way up to 5th place on the notoriously cramped Monaco circuit. By the Canadian Grand Prix, the ninth race of the season, Schumacher was 25 points behind Alonso, but he then won the following three races to reduce his disadvantage to 11. After his victories in Italy (in which Alonso had an engine failure) and China, in which Alonso had tyre problems, Schumacher led in the championship standings for the first time during the season. Although he and Alonso had the same point total, Schumacher was in front because he had won more races.
The Japanese Grand Prix was led by Schumacher with only 16 laps to go, when, for the first time since the 2000 French Grand Prix, Schumacher's car suffered an engine failure. Alonso won the race, giving himself a ten-point championship lead. With only one race left in the season, Schumacher could only win the championship if he won the season finale and Alonso scored no points.
Before the Brazilian Grand Prix, Schumacher conceded the title to Alonso. In pre-race ceremonies, football legend Pelé presented a trophy to Schumacher for his years of dedication to Formula One. During the race's qualifying session, Schumacher had one of the quickest times during the first session and was fastest in the second session; but a fuel pressure problem prevented him from completing a single lap during the third session, forcing him to start the race in tenth position. Early in the race Schumacher moved up to sixth place. However, in overtaking Alonso's teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, Schumacher experienced a tyre puncture caused by the front wing of Fisichella's car. Schumacher pitted and consequently fell to 19th place, 70 seconds behind teammate and race leader Felipe Massa. Schumacher recovered and overtook both Fisichella and Räikkönen to secure fourth place. His performance was classified in the press as "heroic", an "utterly breath-taking drive", and a "performance that ... sums up his career".
2007–2009: retirement at Ferrari
While Schumacher was on the podium after winning the 2006 Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari issued a press release stating that he would retire from racing at the end of the 2006 season. Schumacher confirmed his retirement. The press release stated that Schumacher would continue working for Ferrari. It was revealed on 29 October 2006 that Ferrari wanted Schumacher to act as assistant to the newly appointed CEO Jean Todt. This would involve selecting the team's future drivers. After Schumacher's announcement, leading Formula One figures such as Niki Lauda and David Coulthard hailed Schumacher as the greatest all-round racing driver in the history of Formula One. The tifosi and the Italian press, who did not always take to Schumacher's relatively cold public persona, displayed an affectionate response after he announced his retirement.
2007: Ferrari adviser
He attended several Grands Prix during the season. Schumacher drove the Ferrari F2007 for the first time on 24 October at Ferrari's home track in Fiorano, Italy. He ran no more than five laps and no lap times were recorded. A Ferrari spokesman said the short drive was done for the Fiat board of directors who were holding their meeting in Maranello.
During the 2007 season Schumacher acted as Ferrari's adviser and Jean Todt's 'super assistant'. On 13 November 2007 Schumacher, who had not driven a Formula One car since he had retired a year earlier, undertook a formal test session for the first time aboard the F2007. He returned in December 2007 to continue helping Ferrari with their development programme at Jerez circuit. He focused on testing electronics and tyres for the 2008 Formula One season.
2008: Ferrari road car development
In 2007, former Ferrari top manager Ross Brawn said that Schumacher was very likely and also happy to continue testing in 2008; Schumacher later explained his role further saying that he would "deal with the development of the car inside Gestione Sportiva" and as part of that "I'd like to drive, but not too often".
During 2008 Schumacher also competed in motorcycle racing in the IDM Superbike-series, but stated that he had no intention of a second competitive career in this sport. He was quoted as saying that riding a Ducati was the most exhilarating thing he had done in his life, the second most being sky diving.
2009: planned Massa substitution
In his capacity as racing advisor to Ferrari, Schumacher was present in Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was seriously injured after being struck by a suspension spring during qualifying. As it became clear that Massa would be unable to compete in the next race at Valencia Schumacher was chosen as a replacement for the Brazilian driver and on 29 July 2009, Ferrari announced that they planned to draft in Schumacher for the European Grand Prix and subsequent Grands Prix until Massa was able to race again. Schumacher tested in a modified F2007 to prepare himself as he had been unable to test the 2009 car due to testing restrictions. Ferrari appealed for special permission for Schumacher to test in a 2009 spec car, but Williams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso were against this test. In the end, Schumacher was forced to call off his return due to the severity of the neck injury he had received in a motorcycle accident earlier in the year. Massa's place at Ferrari was instead filled by Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella.
In December 2009 it was announced that Schumacher would be returning to Formula One in the 2010 season alongside fellow German driver Nico Rosberg in the new Mercedes GP