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Schumacher may decide future at season's end
Alan Baldwin | May 12, 2006 12:02 IST
Seven times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher says he may wait until the end of the season before deciding whether to retire or keep racing.
"It [the decision] could be very late," the German told reporters in the Ferrari motorhome at the Spanish Grand Prix on Thursday.
"Ferrari is quite happy to wait until the end of the season," he added.
A Ferrari spokesman confirmed that Formula One's glamour team had set no deadline while Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said there is no pressure on him.
"The fact is that Michael is free to decide until the end of the season and he is thankful for this and he has accepted that, not coming over with a decision before the end of the season," she said.
"He said it is a very important decision he has to take and the more time he has to consider it deeply, with all the knowledge he can have, then the better it is."
Schumacher, the most successful driver in the history of Formula One with 86 wins and a long list of records, must decide whether he is ready to hang up his helmet at the age of 37 or continue.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen has been strongly linked to Ferrari in paddock and media speculation and the team's willingness to allow Schumacher plenty of time does not make that move any less possible.
Brazilian Felipe Massa's contract with Ferrari also expires at the end of the year, which would give the team the flexibility to keep or drop him depending on Schumacher's decision.
Schumacher's dilemma may not have been made any easier by Ferrari's improvement in form, with the German winning the last two races and in the fight for a record eighth crown after a dismal 2005 season.
After five races, he is 13 points adrift of Renault's champion Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made clear at the San Marino Grand Prix that Schumacher had an open invitation to remain at Ferrari.
Montezemolo also told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper last month however that the chances of the German renewing his contract were 50-50 and that he expected him to decide by the end of May.
"It's up to him to decide and he knows that if he wants to stay for two years then we will agree. He has to say it," declared Montezemolo.
"His future depends more on his head than on Ferrari.
"I think Michael wants to continue for a year, but not to find himself in five months' time facing the same questions he has now," added Montezemolo.
"It would suit him to sign for another two years, but he is assessing whether he will still want to race in 2008."
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