Ecclestone Certain on Raikkonen to Ferrari

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is ready to bet on Kimi Raikkonen moving from McLaren to Ferrari for 2007

Ecclestone Certain on Raikkonen to Ferrari

"[Michael] Schumacher will end his career at Ferrari. I think he will stop at the end of 2006," the 74-year-old Briton told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Saturday.

"And I am ready to bet that, in 2007, Raikkonen will be in a Ferrari.

"I would like it if he were together with Valentino Rossi, but I don't have any information about that," he said.

Ferrari, struggling this season after years of domination, have made no secret that they see Raikkonen as a prime target for the future.

McLaren, fighting for the constructor's title, are equally determined to retain the Finn's services.

"Everyone can see Kimi is a fantastic driver, he would be a catch for Ferrari," Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said at the Italian Grand Prix on Friday.

"I think Michael's got to stop one day and the two guys you've got to say appeal are (Renault's Fernando) Alonso and Raikkonen."

Raikkonen has won five races this year but is 24 points adrift of Championship leader Alonso with five Grands Prix remaining.

Ferrari are also taking a close interest in the charismatic Rossi, the MotoGP Champion who is close to securing his fifth successive title.

Brawn revealed at Monza that the Italian would have a series of tests next year after two private outings in a Formula One car already this season at the team's Fiorano test track.

"You can see he's got huge potential," said Brawn.

Only one man has won world titles on two wheels and four, Briton John Surtees switching to Formula One with Ferrari and taking the Championship in 1964.

Ecclestone also criticised Schumacher in the interview, saying the German was also partly to blame for Ferrari fans seemingly deserting the team with dwindling television audiences and reduced ticket sales.

"Italians only come to cheer on Ferrari. And they want to see their cars win. But at the moment Ferrari are in difficulty, I think mainly because of the tyres.

"But in a sense Michael Schumacher should have given more, being more accessible to the media, to everyone, instead of staying enclosed. He should realise that people want to talk to him because he is the best, the most popular."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Ferrari
Author Alan Baldwin
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