Hockenheim: Michael Schumacher has to stay in Formula One next season because he is driven by the need to succeed, world champion Jenson Button said on Thursday.
“I don’t think he can quit now. He has to stay next year,” the McLaren driver told reporters at the German Grand Prix as rain lashed down outside.
“He has to stay until he is winning races, for himself, to leave the sport.
“I think he will be performing better in 2011.”
Seven-times world champion Schumacher, now 41, has had a difficult comeback with Mercedes after three seasons in retirement.
The German has yet to stand on the podium again in 10 starts and has been regularly outshone by younger compatriot Nico Rosberg.
The former Ferrari ace, who has a record 91 career wins, signed a three-year deal with Mercedes, formerly Button’s title-winning Brawn team, but is currently ninth and 109 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton.
He has already said he is turning his focus to winning an unprecedented eighth title next year.
Appearing at a news conference at Hockenheim, Schumacher assured fans categorically that he would still be racing for Mercedes next season.
“It’s what I mentioned the day that I officially publicised that I was rejoining Formula One and it is to win another title, that’s our aim, that’s what my focus is and that’s what I’m here for. Very clearly,” he said.
A four-times winner at Hockenheim, including with Ferrari on his last appearance in 2006, Schumacher said a podium finish would be a great result this time around.
“It is very clear that we are not in the position to come here and win the race, because as a package, we are not yet strong enough to do so,” he said.
“If we could manage a podium, that would be a great and a fantastic result for us, for the fans, for our supporters, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
The sport’s most successful driver, whose best results this year have been two fourth places, said again that he was only human and could not work miracles.
“There is an expectation out there which I think you have to be realistic that it is impossible to meet,” he said.
“I am (have been) away three years and just to come back and start exactly where I finished with maybe a car that doesn’t allow me to is probably unrealistic.
“I am not a magician either. It just needs time. I take that time. I enjoy most of all this process,” he said.
“There are ups and downs and that is the excitement of motor sport. I know the final target where I want to go and I am very confident I can achieve this. That is what I am working for and what I am focussing on.”