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Schumacher defends his decision to return to F1

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Schumacher return to F1 racing this year after three years in retirement
  • Despite high expectations Schumacher finished the season in ninth place
  • Schumacher has won seven F1 world champion titles since his debut in 1991

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(CNN) -- It's been a difficult year for the seven time F1 champion, Michael Schumacher.

After three years in retirement, Schumacher returned to F1 with the new Mercedes team, but has struggled to make an impact on the race track, finishing this year's season in a disappointing ninth place.

It has led many to wonder why the racing legend has returned to sport. But amid the gossip and allegations, the 41-year-old has defended his decision.

He told CNN: "I enjoy it. I feel I have the right to do what I enjoy. Whether I put in dispute my reputation...I just feel good about my decision and I have so much support from people."

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"I certainly want to make it a successful return," he continued. "I'm only happy if I'm back on the winning road with the team. This is what I'm working for, this is the joy of the passion for Formula 1."

His decision has been supported by some of the biggest names in F1.

Finnish F1 driver for Team Lotus Heikki Kovalainen told CNN the criticisms towards Schumacher were unfair.

"People had high expectations, people expected him to win. But (Mercedes) didn't have a car to win and second of all, things have changed since he left Formula 1."

Fellow F1 champion Alain Prost said no-one should judge or criticize a driver of his caliber, saying, "For me, it is difficult, almost impossible to go back to the title after three years...But if there's one driver who'd be able to do it, I think it's Michael."

I certainly want to make it a successful return. I'm only happy if I'm back on the winning road with the team.
--F1 champion Michael Schumacher.
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Team principal and co-owner of Mercedes, Ross Brawn, admits the team has had a disappointing year and credits some of that to Schumacher.

"It's been disappointing, in overall performance, we haven't had the car, Michael's taken a little time to get up to the performance he'll be able to deliver. I've seen patches of that performance...the last few races of the season was the Michael Schumacher I expected to see.

But on a more positive note, Brawn added: "Now it's all coming together and I think next year we're going to have a really exciting time."

Schumacher admits it's been a sluggish return to the track, but remains positive, saying: "It's certainly not as successful as I thought initially and many other people have thought."

"But then having such a strong group and team behind, Mercedes pushing it so hard, I have no doubt about success in the future."