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Schumacher has open door at Ferrari
Alan Baldwin in Imola | April 22, 2005 15:24 IST
Ferrari have told Michael Schumacher he can discuss extending his contract with the Formula One team any time he wants.
The seven-times world champion, whose deal expires at the end of next year, said on Thursday that he had talked to Ferrari boss Jean Todt informally about the future but was under no pressure to make a decision.
"I have had a private chat, I am not in discussions. It is quite open to me about when and [for] what time I want to extend my contract," the 36-year-old German told a San Marino Grand Prix news conference.
"I think I have the best situation I can live in," he added. "I have open doors, any time I want to take a decision I'm welcome to do so and the team supports that."
The German, despite his worst start to a season, said he still loved the sport. He has said in the past that he will end his career with Ferrari.
"But I don't see any reason to fix myself too early," he added. "They leave it open to me."
The Gazzetta dello Sport earlier quoted Schumacher, asked in an interview about other drivers who might take his place, as saying Todt was talking to him about an extension.
Schumacher, the most successful driver in the history of the sport, said Spaniard Fernando Alonso, Renault's championship leader, would be a good choice as eventual replacement.
"I consider him, [McLaren's Kimi] Raikkonen, [Sauber's Felipe] Massa and [Williams' Mark] Webber to be very good drivers," he said.
Alonso's manager Flavio Briatore, who is also the Renault team boss, has said the 23-year-old would never join Ferrari while Schumacher is still there but the German suggested there was another agenda.
"Apart from the fact that I don't believe Todt has said he would like to have Alonso, I can only comment that Briatore is using Ferrari to make his driver more attractive and earn more. Business...," Schumacher told Gazzetta.
Schumacher is he oldest driver on the starting grid and will be almost 38 when his contract expires. At the launch of the new Ferrari in February, however, he suggested he could keep on racing until he is 40.
"I don't think Michael will stop in 2006," Germany's Bild quoted his father Rolf as saying recently. "I have a feeling he will carry on."
Some have suggested he may quit if Ferrari's long run of dominance comes to an end and younger rivals start to beat him on a regular basis.
Todt and other key Ferrari bosses such as technical director Ross Brawn also have contracts expiring at the end of 2006.
Schumacher has scored just two points in three races this season and needs to win on Sunday at Imola, Ferrari's home circuit, to get back into the championship battle.
The German has won five times in the last six years at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit. Renault have won the first three races, with Alonso triumphant in the last two.
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