I Did It My Way, Schumacher Says After Brazilian Swan Song

SAO PAULO - The words of the old Frank Sinatra song came to Michael Schumacher's lips as he looked back on his extraordinary Formula One career on Sunday.

"You know the song 'My Way'? I'd say that fits the way I feel," the Ferrari great declared after one last, thrilling race in Brazil before retirement.

"No regrets" might be an alternative number.

Schumacher finished fourth at Interlagos but, in doing so, the most successful racer in the history of the sport demonstrated that winning is not everything.

The 37-year-old German's charge through the field from last place will live longer in the memory than many of the record 91 victories he has celebrated over the past 16 years.

This was a drive almost designed to show off his true fighting qualities, a performance with gritted teeth and sheer determination to go out with all guns blazing after circumstances had conspired against him.

It was entirely fitting that the last overtaking maneuvre of his extraordinary career should be to force his way past the man who replaces him at Ferrari next year, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

Had it not been for a fuel pressure problem in qualifying that left him 10th on the grid and a puncture early in the race, Schumacher would have been spraying the champagne on top of the podium one last time.

Instead he finished the last race of his career off the podium, but still the talk of the afternoon.

Indecently quick

"He is the best. A seven-times world champion, nobody else has ever achieved that. He is the best, there is nothing else you can say," was triple champion Niki Lauda's considered opinion.

"It was perfect. I would not have passed Raikkonen on my last drive the way he did. He was absolutely sensational, as always," the Austrian told Reuters.

Renault's head of engineering Pat Symonds, who guided Schumacher to his first two titles with Benetton and has now steered Fernando Alonso to a similar double at his French team, was similarly impressed.

"It's what we always expect of him, isn't it? It doesn't matter where Michael is, you never discount him, you always watch him like a hawk. But his car was really outstanding and he as well," he said.

"We were racing a car that was indecently quick, so it was hard work," he added, on an afternoon that rewarded Renault with both the drivers' and constructors' crowns.

"It was just ridiculous. The first part of the race was just stunning, absolutely stunning."

Schumacher now walks away with plenty of options for the future and no hurry to make any decision. He need never work again.

Willi Weber, the manager who steered Schumacher into Formula One with Jordan in 1991, said it was simply a case of a new chapter about to start.

"It's all over in Formula One, but it's not over with our relationship," he told Reuters.

"We work together for the next years and we will see what we will do. We have a lot of things still to do with our sponsors and partners. I'm not so unhappy.

"He showed the world that he is the best race driver in Formula One and he will always be the best," added the German. "This is what he showed. It was a fantastic race, it couldn't be better."