Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in the history of Formula One and the man who shaped the sport in the past decade, will retire from F1 at the end of this season, Ferrari confirmed today.
Ending a guessing game that lasted the past three seasons and went into overdrive the last couple of weeks, Schumacher confirmed what many had anticipated - that 2006 will be his final season, ending an illustrious career that encompasses record braking seven times world championship titles, 90 Grand Prix wins, and 68 pole positions.
It is simply impossible to summarise Schumacher's place in the sport history. 'Consummate professional', and 'the complete package' are some of the accolades he has earned from colleagues and pundits. Controversial, flawed genius - even a cheat - was how others perceive him.
Schumacher immediately drew attention on his Formula One debut, when he qualified the Jordan 191 car in seventh for the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
The Belgian track would soon become synonymous with the German: he took his maiden GP win in 1992 there, and along the years won there six times - more than any other driver. But that is just one of many records Schumacher now has a hold on.
He joined the Benetton team for his second race, and would drive for the outfit for the next four years, taking his first two of seven world championship titles.
But the first championship epitomized much of Schumacher's career: the German was overwhelmingly dominant, but highly controversial and often in trouble for his antics.
He was disqualified in four of the 16 rounds that year, in 1994, and, with the title battle going down to the wire, clinched his maiden championship after a dubious collision with rival Damon Hill.
The second championship, the following year, went more smoothly, the German putting in some of his most memorable drivers and among the best the sport had seen.
But history beckoned Schumacher beyond the success at Benetton, and he was about to begin a chapter in Formula One history that would arguably never be emulated again.
Joining Ferrari, and followed by his close colleagues from Benetton Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, Schumacher and the famous Italian marque created the most dominant team ever, taking five consecutive drivers' championship titles and six consecutive constructors'.
Again, though, in Schumacher style nothing was achieved without controversy.
In 1997, he failed to clinch the title but managed to be striped of second place after he drove into rival Jacques Villeneuve in the final round of the season.
In 1999, he was sidelined for seven races after breaking his leg at the start of the British Grand Prix.
In 2002, in what would become one of the most dominant years for a team and a driver ever, he inherited the win of the Austrian Grand Prix after Ferrari ordered teammate Rubens Barrichello to give the German the lead on the final lap of the race.
For the first time, Schumacher found himself violently booed on the podium, and it didn't get any better when later that year he attempted to stage a photo finish with Barrichello in the United States Grand Prix, accidentally handing the win to the Brazilian.
By 2006, and just when you thought Schumacher's image as one of the all time greats has been fully restored, the German once again found his personality under debate.
The Ferrari driver parked his car at the Rascasse corner in the dying moments of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix - thus ensuring no other driver could improve his own pole position time. The stewards sent him to the back of the grid for that offense, and the fans and media sent him back to the days of Jerez in 1997 and Adelaide in 1994.
Asked once how he thinks he would be remembered after his retirement, Schumacher said: "Honestly? It doesn't matter. Some people will want to see me like this and others like that.
"What's important is that I know what I am, who I am and where I am. And if people see me the way I am - then I'm happy.
"But I can't control how everyone sees me. I can only be proud of myself and happy with what I achieved."