Analysis: Schumacher Hands F1 Crown

For the first time in five years, the phrase 'World Champion Michael Schumacher' required another word on Sunday. Former

Analysis: Schumacher Hands F1 Crown

The reign of the most successful driver in Formula One history, with 84 wins and a long list of records, came to an end in front of a muted crowd of just 60,000 spectators at Ferrari's spiritual home of Monza.

"This Championship is over, at least for me," the German said. "I have been champion for a long time and I am more surprised by how long it has been. I always knew it would end one day."

Now 48 points behind Renault's Fernando Alonso with just four races and a maximum of 40 points remaining, the seven times champion cannot retain the crown he has worn since 2000.

Spain's Alonso has a lead of 27 points over McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and can secure the title in Belgium next weekend at Schumacher's favourite Spa circuit.

Schumacher, 10th on another dark day for a team who were dominant last year with 15 wins in 18 races, accepted the situation with realism and hailed Alonso as his successor.

"I think after today's race, you do not need to be very prophetic to say that the Championship is over," declared the 36-year-old.

"The Championship is only a very small theoretical possibility for Kimi.

"A lot of things need to happen for Alonso not to win the Championship and I don't see those things happening. So for me, this topic is over - just as my Championship was over quite a while ago."

No Light

The German ran in the points for a while at Monza but was ninth after the final fuel stops and then went off the track at the second Lesmo corner as he chased BAR's Jenson Button.

For the second race in a row, Ferrari scored no points - a rare failure for a team who have won for the last three years at Monza and been World Champions for six years in a row.

It was also the first time in Schumacher's career that he had finished the Italian Grand Prix without scoring.

"Giving up would not help anything," said the 36-year-old of Ferrari's plight.

"In the past we have been so successful and the others have been the sad ones," he added. "If the situation we are in now made us give up, we would be bad losers and we would have underestimated our rivals.

"And that is also why our rivals should not underestimate us now, because we want to come back."

Schumacher saw little reason to suspect there was any light at the end of the tunnel and he is not expecting miracles at Spa.

"I would really like to look forward to going to Spa but with our performance at the moment, it's not that good a feeling," he said.

"Clearly we have been much too slow. It's very obvious why we have been so slow but I don't know if that is all the reason."

Asked to clarify his comment, Schumacher made a clear reference to Ferrari's Bridgestone tyres: "I think it's quite clear that we speak about the 'black gold'."

 

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