After taking the 2002 season out as a sabbatical, Mika announced that he was retiring from F1. He stated his reason as being that he wanted to spend more time with his family and did not want to hurt himself. In this respect he also referred to the serious accident he had in 1995.
For a few years Mika was the only real competition for Michael Schumacher. After that it was left to Ralf, Montoya, Raikonnen and then Alonso to pick up the gauntlet.