Saturday December 18th, 1999
Dual world champion Michael Schumacher said he would consider leaving Formula One if a brash young driver in the mould of Ayrton Senna challenged his dominance, in an interview with Damon Hill in the magazine F1 Racing.
Schumacher feels it may be too dangerous to try to beat such a challenger. "It would be a new experience for me, because my career has always been me being young, starting up, and fighting against older people and trying to beat them," said the 30-year-old German.
"At some stage, I'll probably have to have the new experience where a new young guy is coming. I never like these comparisons - you know, to talk about a new Schumacher or a new Senna - because if there's a new guy coming then he'll have a new character. He'll be a new independent person and he'll make his own name. But one day that will happen.
"My father always tells me, 'If that happens you'd better stop,' because then it may become dangerous. And I think he's right, because then you may try to extend your limits to keep up with what he's doing. And that can be dangerous."
Schumacher did not specify a time when he would 'hang up the helmet' should such a challenger fail to appear though. He told Hill: "I do have a family but I don't find that enough reason to say I'll only do it for one more year or two more years or whatever. A couple of years ago I said I'd do it for five more years, but I also remember that when I started I said I'd only do it for three or four years and then I'd stop. And now I'm here almost 10 years. It's okay just as long as you still enjoy it and things are going well. But I think I probably won't stay until 40."
Schumacher's biggest goal is to win the World Drivers' Championship for Ferrari, rather than to challenge Juan Manuel Fangio's five World Drivers' Championships. Which is not to say that challenging Fangio's record will not happen.
"My first priority is to become champion for Ferrari. And then some way down the road, you know, you could say 'I've done it twice, so...'. But then that would be three times already, so then you might say maybe you can do it even more times than that. But it's not really my first thing; I just take it as it comes."