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Ferrari chief eager to retain Schumacher

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has expressed his desire to see Michael Schumacher staying on with the team after the end of his contract

The seven-time World Champion, at 36 the oldest driver on this year's grid, has a year of his Ferrari contract left to run and has said several times that his future will be decided next year.

"Schumacher's future will be decided by himself," di Montezemolo told reporters at Mugello yesterday. "If he wants to carry on I will run towards him and hug him tight like a child, in the knowledge of being able to still win plenty with him.

"If, on the other hand, he wants to quit I'll be a lot less happy but I'll thank him regardless because in the history of my F1 he'll always be number one."

After having won five titles in a row with Ferrari, Schumacher struggled in 2005, scoring only one win and finishing the season with an embarrassing spin at the Chinese Grand Prix.

There have been suggestions that Schumacher's motivation was lacking after this year's struggles, but the German has reiterated his commitment and even hinted at staying in Formula One after 2006.

"We have plenty of motivation because after a year like this we all want to show what Ferrari are made of," Schumacher said. "Already last January or February I understood that it would be a very tough year. Even if the new car hadn't arrived yet there were some worrying signs.

"I talked about it with the president and obviously with the technicians, and we hoped that the situation could improve. Instead we had the shock of falling so badly from one year to the next without a chance to rise back.

"But the motivations have never lacked: when I race I always give 100%. It all depends by how young you feel in your head and I feel very young, to the point of not thinking at all about when I'll quit, so president di Montezemolo can be calm."

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