I can't think of a transcendent and dominant athlete who has simultaneously inspired as much love and hate as Michael Schumacher. The most accomplished driver in the history of Formula One is set to ride off into the sunset and while there are plaudits and kudos within the industry for him, his contemporaries, by and large, line up to heap scorn on the German. After steering his Ferrari to victory last week at the Italian Grand Prix, the 37-year-old Schumacher announced he would be retiring at the end of the season and touched off diverse reactions. His racing team and the people who run Formula One gushed effusively and predictably about his greatness. The reaction from his fellow drivers was not quite so warm. '[Zinedine] Zidane retired with more glory than Schumacher,' said reigning champ Fernando Alonso. 'Michael is the most unsporting driver with the largest number of sanctions in the history of Formula One.' Long-time rival David Coulthard also weighed in, saying: 'Michael's career has been tainted by the lack of an apology. He'd be remembered more as a great champion if he apologised.' The most personal attack came from Canadian Jacques Villeneuve. 'Michael simply isn't a great champion because he's played too many dirty tricks and because he isn't a great human being,' Villeneuve said a few weeks back. 'It's quite sad, really, because the reason Michael did what he did is that he thinks he's better than the rest of us.' Well, Jacques, he is better than the rest of you. And remember, the critiques of him come from his contemporaries, not his peers. Because when it comes to Formula One, Schumacher clearly has no peers. Not now, not ever. With three races left in the season, Schumacher has 90 career wins. Next on the list is Alain Prost with 51. Among active drivers, Coulthard is the closest to Schumacher with 13 victories. If you want to charge Schumacher with recklessness, arrogance and lack of remorse in the court of human civility, that's an entirely different matter. Not even the best lawyer in the world could get him off. Fortunately for Schumi, a pragmatic and obscenely focused man, conjecture and legacies are far from tangible. He has a record of unsporting behaviour on the track, like trying to run both Damon Hill in 1994 and Villeneuve in 1997 off the track in order to capture the driver's championship. The list of Schumacher's ruthless offences is long and yet every time he adapts a 'who me?' stance. Coulthard has implied an apology from Schumacher would make him more human. Well, Schumacher may be human, but just barely. It's the same with Tiger Woods in golf and Roger Federer in tennis. They are human but their ability to quash human emotions, to focus on the task at hand regardless of the situation, both personally and physically, makes them significantly less human and, inevitably, elevates them to the realm of peerless champions. Federer is often cited as an example of a caring superstar. But have you ever seen him on the tennis court in a grand slam final? The man is an absolute assassin who looks for his opponent's vulnerability and then proceeds to endlessly exploit it. Sportsmanship comes a little more naturally to games like tennis and golf. Of course, you can get caught up in the heat of the moment, but there is still time to pause and reflect. Driving at an average speed of more than 360km/h, there is little time for subtlety or niceties. None of this is meant to absolve Schumacher of his numerous indiscretions on the racetrack. I am not a huge Formula One fan, but for years I have found it easy to root against him. The imperious manner that Schumacher employs makes him far from endearing. Still, it is funny how the fashionable spin claims Schumacher suffers in comparison to the great drivers of yesteryear, like late Brazilian icon Ayrton Senna. He may have been more stylish, but Senna was every bit as ruthless and remorseless. Style points be damned. Schumacher was a model of Teutonic efficiency and arrogance, but the man knew how to win. The void he leaves is huge. Schumacher is the only driver with any sort of cachet in burgeoning markets like China and the US. His successor at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen, is a very good driver and, apparently, a decent guy. But fans will soon discover that the notion of Raikkonen in the high-powered Ferrari hardly conjures the mischief, the intrigue, the greatness and the endless possibilities that Schumacher behind the wheel does. Love him or hate him, Michael Schumacher will be sorely missed.