PARIS, Dec 7, 2012 (AFP) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Michael Schumacher was wrong to return to the sport, claiming the German had severely damaged his legacy as a seven-time world champion.
The 43-year-old Schumacher quit the sport in 2006 before being tempted into an ill-fated return in 2010 at Mercedes where he spent three seasons being largely outshone by teammate Nico Rosberg.
He brought the curtain down on his second spell at last month's Brazilian Grand Prix where he finished seventh.
"I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now," Ecclestone told www.formula1.com.
"People new to the sport -- people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently -- will remember Michael now, not as he was. They don't see the hero that he was but the human that can fail."
But Ecclestone had some words of comfort for Schumacher, admitting that three-time champion Sebastian Vettel will find it hard to break his record of seven crowns.
"He is not half way there. It will be a question of how good his team will stay -- or how bad the others are," said Ecclestone.
"When Michael won his five titles with Ferrari it was because Ferrari did a better job than any other team -- that is the same with Red Bull at the moment. Whether they can continue, you don't know. Let's wait and see."
Last week, Ecclestone got into a word exchange with Ferrari boss, Luca di Montezemolo, who responded to the Formula 1 supremo commented that the team request to FIA to revise Vettel's overtaking move over Jean-Eric Vergne was a "Joke".
To this, Montezemolo responded with harsh words suggesting that Ecclestone might be getting too old to be managing the sport.