Michael Schumacher has decided to quit Formula 1 at the end of this season. I am very sorry about this. Don't get me wrong, I dislike Schumacher intensely; I think he is an arrogant, lying, weasely win-at-all-costs cheat. I think it is fair to say that with Scumi you either love him or you hate him if you care about F1; he is a polarizing force in the motorsport industry. His detractors see little but the negative in every action whereas his supporters are often blind in their love for him. However, for whatever faults (imagined or otherwise) he is also one of the (if not the) greatest racing drivers who have ever lived.
Schumi is the man to beat in Formula 1, even though Alonso is the current world champion. Without Schumacher in the field next year the lay of the land will be very different to the way it has been for the past decade. F1 needs its heroes and more importantly it needs its villains; for me Schumacher was a clear villain. Whenever he was beaten it was a good race day even if my man was pootling around at the back somewhere ['paging Mr. Coulthard, the finish line is over here'] and when he won it made me hungry for the next race so that he could be beaten again. There was always the thrill in the last few laps that something could go wrong and Schumi would get beaten. That tension is going to disappear now.
Of course there are some great drivers out there now in capable cars: Alonso and Raikkonnen are the cream of the crop but don't forget others like Button, the new guy Kubica (astonishing talent) and Webber; and of course the old stalwarts like Fisi, Coulthard and Barrichello should never be ruled out. But I am afraid that for 2007 at least it will just not be the same, it will probably take a year to settle into the new rhythm as an avid viewer.
Perhaps with Kimi in a Ferrari I can learn to hate him :-)