Retirement is the last thing on the mind of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. In fact, the ace German driver, a legend in the motor racing circuit, is "curiously" looking forward to the inaugural Formula One race in India and says the country certainly deserves it.
"I have always been in favour of new countries being involved in the sport, as I believe a World Championship should be fought out all over the world. India certainly deserves a F1 circuit," Schumacher told IANS in an e-mail and telephonic interview from Germany.
Schumacher, who made a surprise return to F1 by signing a three-year contract with the Mercedes GP team in 2010, feels India is a valuable addition on the race calendar.
"I must say I am eagerly looking forward to come to India. I have never been there except for a brief stop-over during a flight; so I am very curious to experience your country," Schumacher said.
The 43-year-old, with a record 91 race victories, 68 pole positions and 78 fastest laps, is statistically the greatest driver to have raced in F1. The veteran, however, has not even managed a podium since his comeback last year and his best result of the season has been the fourth place finish in Canada.
Schumacher says he still has fire in his belly to take on the best in the business and quitting has not crossed his mind.
"My contract runs until the end of next year. So there is not even the need now to think ahead of that time. Once the date gets closer, I will certainly make my mind up. Until then, I just do what I love to do: race, fight, compete," he says when asked about retirement.
The 12 teams for the October 28-30 race are expected to arrive here by next week and they are usually on the job from the word go, giving them very little time to explore the place.
Schumacher rues that aspect of F1 and hopes to get the taste of Indian culture that he has heard a lot about.
"Unfortunately, we are usually quite busy during a race weekend; so most of the times we do not manage to see much. But what you can see and feel is how the people welcome you. If they like you to be there and are curious about your sport then it will be something interesting for all of us.
"However, as India is so famous for its culture, I hope to get some knowledge about it," said the champion driver.
Not only is Schumacher one of the greatest but also one of the most popular F1 drivers ever.
He started his career with the Benetton team in 1991 and won consecutive titles with them in 1994-1995. The glorious period of his career came with Ferrari as he won five titles with the Italian outfit from 2000-2004. He narrowly missed the eighth title in the 2006 season when Fernando Alonso edged him for his second world crown.
He had his controversies, too. A spokesman for driver safety, he himself was involved in collisions twice in the final world championship-deciding race of a season, with Damon Hill in 1994 in Adelaide, and with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 in Jerez, Spain.
The German is an ambassador for UNESCO and supports several humanitarian causes, donating tens of millions of dollars in charity.