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11 September, 2006

schumacher quits racing at high crescendo

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher will announce at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix that he is retiring at the end of the season, Germany's top-selling Bild newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Schumacher will announce that he will complete the season by racing in Shanghai, Suzuka and Sao Paulo before hanging up his helmet and overalls.

Bild said the most dominant Formula One driver of the past decade would not comment on his future before the race at Monza.

His manager Willi Weber said: "Until then we have nothing to say." Schumacher hinted at an imminent announcement when he said during a Ferrari function in Germany that "we've fixed everything for Monza."

"All I can do is ask everyone to understand that I don't want to touch on that subject until next Sunday," he added. Schumacher's contract with Ferrari ends this season, but it has indicated it is prepared to offer him a new one if he wants to continue driving.

The German trails reigning world champion Fernando Alonso by 12 points heading into the Italian Grand Prix and Renault are two points ahead of Ferrari in the team standings.