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Schumi should be honest with himself and retire - Lauda
Lauda made a comeback of his own in 1982, after two years out of the sport, and went on to win his third title in 1984. However, when he finished tenth in the championship and 59 points behind his McLaren team-mate Alain Prost the following year, he took the decision to retire.
In an interview in the September issue of Motor Sport magazine, Lauda drew comparisons between his 1985 season and Schumacher's current situation.
"I have always been a big supporter of Michael's comeback - because I did it, and I know what it's all about," Lauda told Motor Sport. "Last year we understood he needed time to get used to these different cars, plus the handicap of not being able to test and all the rest of it. I felt that this year was the last chance for the comeback to happen properly if it was going to - and this year is the same as last…"
But after an Italian newspaper reported that Schumacher was questioning his future at Mercedes earlier this week, his manager Sabine Kehm retaliated by saying the German was as committed as ever.
"He is full of passion for the project and regards it as an exciting challenge to build something big together with Mercedes," she told Bild. "That it is sometimes tough only encourages him more. Someone who will soon celebrate their 20th anniversary in Formula One knows that perseverance is what makes the difference."
But Lauda does not believe it will all come good for Schumacher and suspects that he is not as relaxed about the situation as he appears to be.
"I think every sportsman - if he wants to perform as well as Schumacher did in the past - has to be honest with himself," Lauda added. "He has kept saying that he needs more time, blah, blah, blah, and he presents himself as the relaxed guy who's really enjoying it - but inside he's not relaxed at all, because no top racing driver enjoys being beaten. If he really were as relaxed as he claims to be, then Mercedes should tell him to retire!
"You don't do Formula One for fun. In the end he has to ask himself, 'Can I do it or not?' I honestly don't think it will work out for Michael now: when you want to go quicker, you try everything - and when you've tried everything and you still don't make it, that's it. I'm sure he's still trying, but one day he will realise that he can't make it, and then he will take a decision."