Michael Schumacher's fans made their presence felt at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday as the seven times Formula One champion prepared to say farewell to the sport at the age of 43.
"On 25 Nov 2012, last day of the golden age of F1," declared one banner in the grandstand overlooking the main Interlagos straight. "Michael, F1 is nothing without you" and "Michael, we love you," said others.
Schumacher will start the race in 13th place, hoping to finish in the points at least at the end of a career that started in 1991 when Red Bull's current world champion Sebastian Vettel was four years old.
"We're not really in a position to offer a lot of fireworks in this last race although I wish to do," the German said, standing next to championship leader Vettel on a truck as they went around the circuit for the pre-race drivers' parade. "It's been a pleasure to come back," added the sport's most successful driver, who won his titles and 91 races with Benetton and Ferrari before returning with Mercedes.
"I enjoyed most of it. It wasn't as successful as we wanted it to be but still I learned a lot for life and I'm quite glad for the good emotions again. Now is a good time to go..."
Schumacher retired for the first time in Brazil in 2006 and came back in 2010. With Mercedes, he has just one podium finish to his credit, at the European Grand Prix in Valencia this season. The German has not scored a point in his last six races.