Di Montezemolo: No Deal with Raikkonen

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo dismissed rumours that the Italian team have already signed Kimi Raikkonen to join them in 2007 and said the team's first choice of a driver would remain Michael Schumacher

Di Montezemolo: No Deal with Raikkonen

Recent reports suggested McLaren driver Raikkonen has signed a contract with Ferrari, which would see him join the Italians after his current contract ends.

Both Raikkonen and Ferrari have denied these reports, but speculations persists that Raikkonen has agreed on an option to move to the Maranello-based outfit.

"There is no agreement with Kimi Raikkonen," di Montezemolo told reporters at Monza this weekend, "I have heard so many rumours about drivers [who would be joining the team] in my time as Ferrari chairman, since 1991, including [Ayrton] Senna and so many others.

"I don't think much about 2007. Our first choice is Michael Schumacher. We are not even at the end of 2005. It is too early to be thinking about it. We will make a decision about 2007 at the beginning of 2006."

Di Montezemolo reiterated that Schumacher, who was today eliminated from the 2005 Championship battle - losing the title for the first time in five years - has the choice to stay at Ferrari for as long as he wished. And the Ferrari president said the German is still the best driver on the Formula One grid.

"Michael has been with us since 1996; he will decide himself when he wants to stop," the Italian said. "I told him this one-and-a-half years ago - he will decide.

"If he continues to race after the end of 2006, if he then decides to do that, we are very, very pleased. He's strongly motivated and competitive and the best driver in the world.

"If, after many years and victories, he decides to stop and the end of his contract we will accept that decision."

Schumacher's career at Ferrari is the longest for any Formula One driver in the history of the World Championship, and also the most successful: the German won five World Championships and 65 Grands Prix - more than any other driver has won in his career, let alone with a single team.

Fittingly, di Montezemolo dismissed any suggestions that Schumacher could race for a different team, stating unequivocally: "Michael will end his career at Ferrari.

"I don't know when it will end, but it will end at Ferrari."

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