Michael Schumacher chose retirement rather than teaming up with Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari for the 2007 season.
Michael Schumacher won five world championships with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004 before the world saw a decline in Ferrari’s dominance due to a rule change regarding tyres in 2005.
Schumacher struggled to keep a lead in the championship battle in the 2005 and 2006 seasons and lost both the titles to Renault’s Fernando Alonso. Earlier in the 2006 season, Ferrari had announced Schumacher’s retirement from the sport.
However, as per reports from Business F1, Ferrari’s decline in performance was not the reason why Schumacher decided to retire.
Instead, the seven-time world champion chose retirement rather than having Kimi Raikkonen as his teammate in the 2007 season. A long battle had undergone within Ferrari regarding the 2007 driver lineup.
Michael Schumacher gave the ultimatum – ‘Raikkonen or me’
Schumacher and then Ferrari team principal Jean Todt were a combination of two very powerful people within the team. Schumacher and Todt had even dictated the terms and blocked Mika Hakkinen’s move to Ferrari.
The then Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo hated this situation. So when the talented, young Kimi Raikkonen became available, Montezemolo grabbed on the opportunity to regain power; despite Schumacher’s ultimatum ‘Raikkonen or me’.
As Michael Schumacher retired for the 1st time in 2006, Martin Brundle asked Kimi Raikkonen why he didn’t go and watch the presentation to Michael from Footballer Pele 🇧🇷
Kimi’s answer was in typical Kimi fashion 😂😂😂😂💩
— Crash F1 (@CRASH_NET_F1) November 11, 2021
The report states, “Montezemolo wanted Räikkönen, and if that meant Schumacher’s departure, then so be it.”
“He also made it clear he was not prepared to carry on paying Schumacher $45 million a year in his twilight years. In any case, that money was no longer available, it had been allocated to Räikkönen.”
Ferrari signed Raikkonen for three seasons and Schumacher retired from the sport despite his wishes until he returned with Mercedes in 2010.