Acknowledging that "I have just been wasting my life" 26 year old Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 World Champion in 2008, revealed this morning his immediate retirement from the sport.
His McLaren car seemed off the pace for much of this year but last Sunday Hamilton had taken his maiden German Grand Prix victory; making the announcement all the more surprising to his legions of fans and the F1 paddock alike. The race itself had been widely hailed as one of the best of the modern era (i.e. since drivers stopped dying at 3 or 4 a season), with no fewer than three out of the this season's total of four on-track overtaking manoeuvre's.
"It suddenly became clear to me after I'd lapped Michael Schumacher" Hamilton explained to a shocked F1 press conference "I just thought to myself 'Michael is old enough to be my father - yet he's still just sitting on his arse on a Sunday afternoon and going round and round in circles'. That's no job for a grown man - unless he works in admin and has a swivel chair. Once that truth had dawned it was a short step to realising that there must be better things for me to do with my life."
Hamilton joined F1 in 2007 and made an immediate impact on the sport, winning races and very nearly the championship in his first season. "To be honest, we'd been caught out er... let's just say 'being a ickle bit naughty'. There was no way we could be seen to win the championship that year. So, I had to pretend to have a problem in the last race and then somebody or other won the title instead."
"Ever since I was 7 years old I'd wanted to drive an F1 car and be world champion but I've now decided to pursue an adult dream. My immediate plans are to have a long holiday and then spend a few months arranging my money into neat piles."