SAO PAULO, Nov 25, 2012 (AFP) - Michael Schumacher bade an emotional farewell to Formula One on Sunday after finishing seventh in his final race, the tumultuous season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
After 21 years, seven drivers' championship triumphs and 91 victories, the 43-year-old recovered from an early puncture to score points in his final outing with the Mercedes team.
In an incident-packed race, Schumacher fell to the back of the field in the opening laps but climbed to sixth before being passed by title-bound fellow-German, and good friend, Sebastian Vettel.
"I think it's a nice ending," he said. "I'm finishing off and he's (Vettel) clinching his third title. I'm very proud of him and he's a good friend of mine and let's see what happens in his future.
"My emotions are under control at the moment, maybe later having a drink and hugging the mechanics it'll become more sentimental but I'm looking forward to life after Formula One now.
"It's been a pretty big challenge in this race because obviously I had the puncture and was at the back again... It took some memories back to 2006 when the same thing happened to me.
"Luckily I have the nature of not giving up and always trying to find a solution, and it worked out. In a way it does remind me of 2003 when I had a similar struggle and just managed by a point to win the championship."
He smiled as he looked back on his thrilling fight with 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus during the race.
"People are here to see a show, so you might as well put one on," added Schumacher. "Give it a go and give it the maximum. I was having a go, and at certain moments you need to accept that there isn't the space and admit defeat."
He added that he had enjoyed his "second career" with Mercedes.
"It's been a beautiful time. Lots of exciting moments we shared, and lots of tough moments. The most incredible thing in a way is that I felt a lot of support in these last three years and they have been the most difficult years for me. But the fans have always been behind me."