Montoya: Schumacher May Quit Before 2006

Michael Schumacher may quit Formula One before his Ferrari contract expires in 2006 if he stops winning, Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya said today.

Montoya: Schumacher May Quit Before 2006

Michael Schumacher may quit Formula One before his Ferrari contract expires in 2006 if he stops winning, Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya said today.

Montoya, talked of in the Italian media as a likely replacement for the five times World Champion when he decides to retire, saw little significance in the 34-year-old German's decision to extend his contract until 2006.

"If he's not winning, he'll probably retire before (2006)," the Williams driver told a news conference ahead of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

"At the moment for him to make a decision and stay winning is not as difficult as if suddenly Ferrari starts to struggle. I think everything could change. I don't know Michael, so I don't know, but I'd be surprised if he's not winning if he stays more years, it wouldn't look that good," said Montoya.

Schumacher has won three races this year but remains four points behind McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who has yet to race the Mercedes-powered team's new car, at the halfway point of the season. The German has rewritten most of the sport's records, winning an unprecedented 67 races and now seeking to become the first driver to win six championships.

Ferrari said on Monday that Schumacher had extended his contract by two more years, along with the team's key technical staff who have helped him become the most successful driver in Grand Prix history. Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, the only other champion remaining on the grid, said he was not surprised that Schumacher had decided to stay on.

"You retire if nobody wants you and you can't earn a living any more or if you are heading out and you are not winning races," said the BAR driver, whose own future remains uncertain. "He's in a team where he wins races and he makes loads of money so why should he retire?"

Schumacher is the highest paid driver in Formula One, earning an estimated $50 million a year, and he has said that he wants to keep on driving for as long as he is having fun. Montoya, winner of the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago, also shrugged off the prospect of having Schumacher as a rival for a few more years.

"It won't change anything. He's there, you've got to try to beat him," he said. "If he's not there, you've got to try to beat somebody else.

"They've had big difference in cars in the last few years, this year it's been getting a lot closer. He's not winning races as easily as before and he's not even leading the championship at the moment."

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