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Speculation rife over Schumi swansong

London: Formula One rarely takes no for an answer.

No matter how many times Michael Schumacher denies that his retirement is imminent, there will still be people keeping a close watch on next week’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Last Sunday, after the 34-year-old had won the US Grand Prix and all but secured his record sixth championship, the German faced the inevitable question yet again. “What is true about these rumours that you are going to retire if you get the sixth title',” he was asked. “Nothing,” the Ferrari driver replied.

The logic is beguiling: The German has after all won everything there is to win and broken just about every record in the book.

He has two young children, a happy marriage and more money than he can possibly spend. Why stay, driving around in circles risking his life when he could be doing something more challenging'

Why not quit at the top'

Former champion Jackie Stewart, who did just that, thinks Schumacher should: “I was able to start another life when I retired at 34,” he said last weekend. “There’s more to do than driving racing cars, believe me.”

Others wonder why Sauber have yet to confirm Brazilian Felipe Massa as their second driver. Are Ferrari reluctant to release their young test driver and if so why' Those around Schumacher say it is all nonsense.

“Does he look like someone who wants to retire',” his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said. “I think by now the questions are getting on his nerves. He’s always being asked if he’s about to retire.

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