chiefs Niki Lauda
and Norbert Haug have scotched claims the German squad sacked Michael Schumacher
. Mere days after Mercedes signed Lewis Hamilton
to be Nico Rosberg
's teammate next year, seven time world champion Schumacher announced he is returning to retirement.
The obvious conclusion is that the 43-year-old German was pushed out of his seat against his will. But Lauda, Mercedes' new non-executive chairman, is quoted by Bild newspaper: "He was not forced out. I want to emphasise that very clearly."
Faced with the same accusation about Schumacher being deliberately ousted, Mercedes' Haug insisted: "That was not the case. Michael's thought process about a contract extension was not yet complete, which we not only respected but also understood," he told Sport Bild. "Michael also understands that the team had to use that available opportunity when Lewis Hamilton was available." (GMM)