Johnny Herbert, who was Michael Schumacher’s team-mate in the Benetton-Renault F1 squad back in 1995, believes that the seven times world champion will hang up his helmet for good at the end of the 2011 season – after what is unfolding into a second dismal comeback season with the Petronas Mercedes squad.
Herbert, who won the 1995 British and Italian GPs alongside Schumacher, thinks it is now clear that Michael is not enjoying himself – and is feeling obviously flustered by the superior performance of the next generation of F1 stars he now finds him surrounded by on the grid.
"The simple fact is that he is no longer the best driver on the track," Herbert wrote in a column in Abu Dhabi's The Nation newspaper as reported by Autosport.com.
"Schumacher has not lost any of his skill - the new generation of young drivers are just better than him. It is a case that the level required to win in F1 has gone up and he is not at that standard anymore.
"I do not think he is any slower than he was when he was winning seven world titles; he is just struggling to cope with a situation he is not used to - he is no longer the best guy in the field and he does not have the best machinery at his disposal, as well as the fact that he has a team-mate in Rosberg who is consistently beating him."
Since kick starting his F1 career at the start of 2010, Schumacher has yet to achieve a top three podium finish. Nor, on his current form, does he look likely to achieve any.