Schumacher 'undecided' on future
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is still "undecided" over his future after learning that he will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, according to his agent Sabine Kehm.
"Michael could have re-signed (for Mercedes) this summer if he'd wanted to," Kehm told AFP.
"He wasn't sure of what he wanted to do and that hasn't changed since."
Mercedes announced on Friday that British driver Hamilton had signed a three-year deal to drive for the German stable from 2013, replacing Schumacher.
Hamilton will drive alongside Nico Rosberg, who will be in his fourth year at Mercedes and won his first Formula One race this year in China.
Schumacher, 43, enjoyed three years at Mercedes, although he accepted that results had been disappointing.
Schumacher's options will be to continue racing in F1 – in which he has shown some thrilling form, fitfully, this year – and he could be a target for Sauber, with team owner Peter Sauber a close friend.
Indeed, Sauber was seen deep in conversation with Schumacher's agent Kehm at the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month.
Schumacher, however, has also been linked with a return to Ferrari.
But with his family home in Switzerland, a final hurrah at Sauber, if not a move into Mercedes' management team, seems more likely.
Sapa-DPA reports that speculation is rife around the Schumacher's future.
One of the options being speculated about is a sensational return to Ferrari, where Felipe Massa's contract is expiring at the end of the season.
Gazzetta dello Sport said on Saturday: "A chapter ends for Schumacher, but possibly not his era. There has been no statement from him that he is leaving for good."
Ferrari, where Schumacher enjoyed most of his success between 1996 and 2006, said they did not want to comment on speculation, but the Daily Mirror said: "The tireless German will be looking for a new team to continue his career."
HUGE SALARY CUT
The French newspaper L'Equipe suggested that Schumacher might be in line to join Sauber, but that would mean not only does he have to take a huge decrease in salary, he would also be getting into a car that will not be continuously competitive.
But it was exactly that drive to be competitive that stopped Schumacher from committing to Mercedes earlier. "Michael was unsure what he wanted to do," team principal Ross Brawn told British media.
Schumacher is said never to have given the team a clear indication, while Hamilton's management pushed for negotiations with Mercedes.
"Michael always knew of these discussions and he is happy that the team has managed to secure such a good alternative for the future," Brawn said.
Brawn pointed out that Hamilton will not be considered the No 1 driver in the team. "Lewis did not demand this in any of the negotiations. He wanted to make sure that he would be treated as Rosberg is treated, but he never demanded that he have a No 1 status."
Newspapers differed in their evaluation of the spectacular move. The Guardian called it: "A step into history", while the Independent described it as "sporting suicide."
One thing is clear: Hamilton has left a team that has been successful over years and is joining a team that has been competing for three years with a few highs and many lows.
Also not making Hamilton's job any easier is the fact that the 2008 world champion has to take over from Schumacher, whose - regardless of the criticism he has had to endure over his race performance, work for Mercedes outside the circuit has been beyond reproach.
But before Hamilton sits in a Mercedes cockpit, both drivers will compete in six more races.
Ironically, in pursuit of the world title Hamilton needs the support of a team for which he no longer wants to drive, while Schumacher, if he wants to end his career on a high, needs the support of a team that no longer wants him.