Mat Coch writes:
"You can't get rid of me!" That's the claim of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, who tried to dispel persistent rumours of his impending retirement.
Speaking to the press ahead the Singapore Grand Prix, Schumacher's first night race, the German was adamant that he will remain in the sport next season, despite a growing chorus of speculation to the contrary.
Schumacher hasn't yet come to terms with the 2010 Mercedes, the descendant of the championship winning Brawn, which has struggled for pace in comparison with rivals Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. The 41-year old refuses to panic however, or listen to media speculation, and instead is focussing on developing the team into a championship force once more.
"If you think, in my first activities and time with Benetton it took me four years to build up to finally win a championship, with Ferrari it took me five years, and I hope it will be much more efficient here," said the German.
"Our goal is naturally to win the championship, and rather earlier than late," he continued. "We try to maximise our opportunity in deciding early to prepare for 2011. The process has started naturally, whereas the teams that are still contending this year's title have to make a dual program. We hope that will give us a slight advantage for starters in 2011."
Given that 2010 has been all but abandoned by the team, Schumacher admits that his motivation and frame of mind has changed. "If you fight for the championship you are focussed to this part extremely and sometimes have less room, and less willingness, to experience new things that might not be good for the single weekend but for the future, for other aspects. So yes, certainly, the frame of mind is very different, and we enter this process now.
"We're obviously more limited because we have tyres that are given, and have a car that has a certain characteristic and certainly in a way I do feel that the harmony between these two components and myself is not yet given. But we're working to make it in harmony."