Michael Schumacher plays down Bernie Ecclestone's comments

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has hinted that Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the year.

Ecclestone told BBC Sport: "I'm sorry that he's leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner."

But asked if he knew Schumacher, whose deal ends at the end of the year, would quit Ecclestone said: "I don't know."

Mercedes' Schumacher responded to the remarks saying: "I guess he said: 'If I would leave?', as I told him yesterday I had not made a decision."

Schumacher, 43, added: "I think we made a very clear statement some time ago that by October we will be able to give an indication and nothing has changed since then, so no news I'm afraid."

The German, who was celebrating his 300th Formula 1 race at Spa, ran as high as second but courted controversy when he narrowly avoided an accident with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

The Red Bull driver tried a move down the inside at the Bus Stop chicane, but Schumacher defended on the outside, locking his brakes but keeping his nose in front as they entered the corner.

Schumacher then drove across to enter the pit lane, preventing Vettel from turning left and onto the start/finish straight and forcing him to take avoiding action to stop a collision.

Vettel suggested it was a racing incident and a result of the unusual pit entry at the track.

"It was a bit of a confusion," Vettel told BBC Sport. "I think this happens very rarely, but with this track entry, it can happen.

"I think his plan was always to pit but we wanted to carry on. Maybe I misunderstood him under braking, he squeezed me a little bit. Fortunately nothing happened, but that's racing. I'll talk to him and then that's the end of that story."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added: "Seb only just missed Michael when he went into the pits. They are racing each other, and it did not cost us too much. I think it is a racing incident."

A gamble to do a one-stop strategy failed to work out and, after more than 20 laps on a single set of tyres, Schumacher was forced to stop for a second time late on.

That dropped him down the field, then the German lost sixth gear, forcing him to nurse his car home to seventh - his sixth points finish of the season and the third time he has finished in that position in the last four races.

"We tried to gamble and try our luck with our race strategy. It looked reasonable from the start as we did reasonable lap times in my first stint," Schumacher added.

"I needed to push my tyres against Daniel Ricciardo and that decided we had to come in again.

"I enjoyed my 300th grand prix - it is beautiful to fight for the top end positions and it is sad when you cannot take it home."