On the back of their fifth straight Formula 1 world championship win, four of which have been won by Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has credited his team's success to the legendary Michael Schumacher, as he celebrates his 50th birthday.
The German came out of retirement in 2010 for the team's planned relaunch and despite just one podium finish during his three years back on the grid, Wolff believes Schumacher is a 'founding father' of F1's marquee team.
As Wolff took the reigns at Mercedes in 2013, Schumacher began a second F1 farewell, and the 46-year-old remains full of admiration for F1's most coveted star.
"He played a crucial role when we rejoined F1 and was one of the people who laid the foundation for our future success. We're extremely grateful for everything he did for us."
Wolff will consider himself unfortunate for never having the opportunity to lead the German as Mercedes boss, but recalled the first time he ever met him.
"We had a really good and honest conversation and when we landed it felt like I had known him for much longer than I actually did," he told Autosport.
He also mentioned being starstruck after playing a game of backgammon with Schumacher, stating that he was beaten by the driver in a couple of minutes, due to being so shocked at his presence.
As Schumacher now endures a quiet life, recovering from the life-changing injuries he sustained in a skiing accident back in 2013, Wolff cast the utmost respect over the veteran's legacy.
"Michael is one of the founding fathers of the success we have had in the last five years.
"There is no other driver like him and his vast experience contributed tremendously in the development of our team.
Schumacher's family also issued a statement yesterday to thank all of the well-wishes the 50-year-old had received.
"We want to remember and celebrate his victories, his records and his jubilation," the statement read.
"You can be sure that he is in the best of hands. Please understand if we are following Michael's wishes and keeping a sensitive subject as health, as it has always been, in privacy.News Now - Sport News