What happens to Michael Schumacher?
The opportunity was there for the seven-time world champion to say - in concert with the announcement that Hamilton would leave McLaren-Mercedes at the end of 2012 to drive for the Silver Arrows team from 2013 on - that he would retire for good at the end of the season.
It was an opportunity for him to bow out with dignity and class.
But no, his statement about the signing of Hamilton, meaning he is being dropped by the team at season's end, made no mention of him stopping.
I won't repeat in full what I wrote in two columns already this week. He's been a wonderful F1 champion and a legendary F1 performer but the signs are there that he's not the Michael Schumacher of old - two rear-enders so far this season are two too many - and it would be best if he called it a career.
I don't want to see him embarrassed and I don't want to see him hurt. Yes, he's still fast as lightning in the car but in the million-miles-an-hour world of Formula One, he's no longer quick enough to react when something untoward happens. In short, at age 43 he's slowing down, which is something that happens to all top athletes in all sports.
Already there are suggestions he will drive for Sauber (which has a seat open next year as a result of Sergio Perez signing with McLaren to replace Hamilton) but then he would just be doing what Jacques Villeneuve was doing in the final years of his once-glorious F1 career - hanging on.
Allow me to float - again - my suggestion that Schumacher return to Ferrari on a one-year contract for a Farewell Tour that will culminate with his retirement. I think the signs are there for this to happen:
- Ferrari allowed Felipe Massa's contract to lapse, which means the seat is open in 2013.
- Schumacher is still fast enough to challenge Fernando Alonso but he would not be a threat (and we all know how Alonso reacts to teammates he can't handle . . . )
- This would be a wondeful public relations move on Ferrari's part and give the Scuderia a year to get its ducks in a row so far as its driver lineup of the future is concerned. As Alonso cruises toward his own inevitable retirement, he could then mentor and be partnered by one of the fine young chargers Ferrari has in its driver development program.
Let's hope in the days ahead that the news about Michael Schumacher's future is positive.
The world of aging athletes looking bad as they try to keep going doesn't need another sad story.
Speaking of sad stories, legendary racing reporter and TV commentator Chris Economaki has died at age 91. I can't think of anyone else who contributed as much as he did to the growth of racing in North American. I will have more to say about his life and legacy in the days ahead.