Schumacher Concedes Title is Lost

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher conceded on Sunday that he had no hope of retaining his Formula One title for a sixth successive year

Schumacher Concedes Title is Lost

The German's fifth place at the German Grand Prix on Sunday left him 40 points behind Renault's Fernando Alonso with seven races left.

Schumacher's previous optimism that he had a chance, as long as the title remained "mathematically possible", gave way to sober reality.

"I don't think I can count myself in this battle anymore," Schumacher said when asked whether he or McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, second overall but 36 points adrift of Alonso, could still catch the Spaniard.

"It's obvious that we have to get faster. Our main problem is the tyres," he added. "The main problem is the lack of grip with the tyres."

Schumacher was holding third place until late in the race but he felt like a sitting duck with his deteriorating Bridgestone tyres.

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya and then BAR's Jenson Button - both with Michelin tyres - passed him.

"It was like trying to fight with a blunted weapon," said Schumacher. "You can see the challenges coming, but if your weapons are weak you don't have a chance."

No Grip

The seven-times World Champion qualified fifth and fought hard to stay in front of Button before finally getting caught on lap 45.

"I had no grip left on the tyres," Schumacher said. "It was a fairly nice move by him. I was hoping I could have gained back the position but there was some traffic in front of me that slowed me a bit."

Schumacher was later passed by Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella with just over a lap remaining.

"I had a problem with the fuel transfer and the engine sputtered," he said. "I'd never experienced that before."

Schumacher has won just one race this year, the six-car fiasco at Indianapolis that none of the Michelin teams started after concern about the safety of their tyres.

Until Sunday he had remained steadfastly optimistic about defending his world title - repeatedly saying "hope is the last thing to die" and that he would fight "as long as it was mathematically possible."

"At the beginning of the race the tyres were good, but towards the end they deteriorated and our opponents' tyres were more consistent. They were faster and faster at the end while we were slower and slower," he said.

Schumacher had gone on German television on Saturday night and urged his fans to do a "rain dance" for him, counting on his experience and prowess in wet conditions to compensate for his slower car.

It did rain briefly about an hour before the race.

"It's true it didn't rain, but in the final analysis we have to be competitive in dry conditions anyhow," he said.

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