Michael Schumacher is strongly tipped to be returning to the sport he conquered so memorably next season alongside Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.
Autocar has looked back at the German’s career – one which has been plagued by controversy – in pictures, which you can see by clicking on the link below.
Schumacher made his debut for Jordan at the 1991 Belgian GP and he qualified seventh before retiring on the first lap. He switched to Benetton for the remained of the season and won his first race for the team in Belgium the following year.
Schumacher managed fourth in the championship in 1993 and took his maiden world title in 1994, by controversially beating Damon Hill in the title decider in Adelaide.
He retained the title in 1995 before making a shock switch to Ferrari for 1996, a team which hadn’t won the title since 1979. He quickly turned the Maranello outfit – along with Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and Rory Byrne - into a front runner, winning three races on his way to third in the championship.
Schumacher challenged Jacques Villeneuve for the 1997 title but was disqualified from the championship after deliberately crashing into the Canadian at the title deciding European grand prix while leading.
Mika Hakkinen emerged as his great rival in 1998, and the Finn beat him to the title in 1998 and 1999. But Schumacher suffered a broken leg at Silverstone in 1999, but 98 days later he was back and qualified on pole in Malaysia by almost a second.
He finally took the title away from Hakkinen in 2000 and back to Ferrari after an absence of more than 20 years. Schumacher then dominated the sport for the first half of the decade, winning four more world titles.
But as usual, the wins were often not without controversy – the Italian team often deployed team orders forcing his team mate Rubens Barrichello to move over to win. Two particular incidents in 2002 – in Austria and the US – forced the FIA to ban team orders.
Ferrari was hurt in 2005 by the uncompetitive Bridgestone tyres and won just one race, losing the title to Fernando Alonso. 2006 looked to be a similar story, but a strong mid-season fight back from Schumacher saw him just lose out to the talented Spaniard.
The year turned out to be Schumacher’s last in the cockpit, as he retired and was replaced by Kimi Raikkonen. He remained an advisor to the team for the following three seasons and was set for a dramatic comeback in 2009 after Felipe Massa’s injury at the Hungarian grand prix.