Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher has decided to retire from active competition after the end of the 2012 season, 6 days after it was announced that Lewis Hamilton would be taking his Mercedes seat for 2013.

The German legend returned to Formula in 2010 after spending three seasons away from the sport, but couldn’t replicate the success from before, only managing a single podium since.

Photo: Mercedes AMG F1

“I have decided to retire at the end of the season,” he said in Suzuka this morning.

“I still feel I am capable of competing against the best but the time sometimes comes to say goodbye and this time it might be forever.”

The 43-year-old added: “During the past month I was not sure if I still had the motivation and energy which is necessary to go on. It is not my style to go on if I’m not 100 percent with it but with today’s decision I feel relieved.”

The German took the time to thank Mercedes and its parent company for giving him the opportunity to return to the sport in 2010.

Photo: Mercedes AMG F1

“We did not achieve our targets but I can be happy about overall achievements in my career. I would like to thank Daimler, Mercedes-Benz, the team, my engineers and my mechanics for the trust they put in myself. I would like to concentrate now on the end of the season and enjoy those races with you.”

Despite a disappointing past few seasons, Schumacher remains F1’s most successful driver with 7 World titles, 91 race victories and 155 podiums.

The closest he came to adding any more to that title was a stirring wet-weather display in Canada last year, and a fastest time in Monaco qualifying earlier this season, only to be demoted to 6th thanks to a grid-penalty.

Photo: Mercedes AMG F1