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Schumacher rules out return

London: Michael Schumacher ruled out any return to serious competition on Sunday after losing to Sweden’s Mattias Ekstroem in the ‘Race of Champions’ final at Wembley Stadium.

The retired seven-time Formula One world champion, who has tested with Ferrari this year, replied with a simple ‘no’ when asked whether the fun event had whetted his appetite for competitive racing.

“I will invite him to drive in DTM with me,” grinned Ekstroem, a double champion in the German Touring Car series who also won the event last year at the Stade de France.

Schumacher, who turns 39 in January, was the star nonetheless in an event bringing together some of motorsport’s leading lights.

“We come here to enjoy ourselves, to be here for a good reason, for the ICM project, and to race,” said the German, who was appearing to promote a brain and spinal injuries institute.

“We do this as good as we can and sometimes one is better than the others. We all can live with this because it’s not a championship, it’s no pressure. That’s what is good about it. If you do it, perfect and if not, no problem.

“We’re going to have a drink together later and have some fun anyway.”

Schumacher was a winner earlier in the evening when Germany beat Finland, with new McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen, in the final of the Nations Cup team event.

The German and Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel also swept past the England team of Jenson Button and world touring car champion Andy Priaulx, with Schumacher then beating Honda F1 driver Button in the individual event as well.

Vettel saved Schumacher’s blushes after the Ferrari great stalled in his heat against Kovalainen. The youngster beat former world rally champion Marcus Gronholm and then Kovalainen in the final decider.

Organisers said 50,000 tickets had been sold for the event’s first appearance at the home of English soccer, where England beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup final at the old stadium.

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