Schumacher Discussing Contract Extension

Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is talking to Ferrari about staying on after 2006

Schumacher Discussing Contract Extension

Asked whether team boss Jean Todt had talked to him about eventual replacements, the 36-year-old German told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Thursday that the main discussion had been about his own future.

"To tell you the truth, Jean at the moment is talking with me about extending my contract," he said. "Sometimes we talk about drivers, but in very general terms."

His spokeswoman confirmed that was the case.

Schumacher, the most successful driver in the history of the sport, said however that Spaniard Fernando Alonso, Renault's Championship leader, would be a good choice as eventual replacement.

"I consider him, (McLaren's Kimi) Raikkonen, (Sauber's Felipe) Massa and (Williams' Mark) Webber to be very good drivers," he said.

Of the four named, Todt has hinted at a preference for Raikkonen although Brazilian Massa is a former Ferrari test driver managed by his son Nicolas.

Alonso's manager Flavio Briatore, who is also the Renault team boss, has said the 23-year-old would never join Ferrari while Schumacher is still there but the German suggested there was another agenda there.

"Apart from the fact that I don't believe Todt has said he would like to have Alonso, I can only comment that Briatore is using Ferrari to make his driver more attractive and earn more. Business...," said Schumacher.

The seven times champion, who joined Ferrari in 1996, will be almost 38 when his contract expires. Asked regularly about retirement, he has said he intends to keep racing for as long as he is enjoying it.

At the launch of the new Ferrari in February, he even suggested he could keep on racing until he is 40.

"I don't think Michael will stop in 2006," Germany's Bild quoted his father Rolf as saying recently. "I have a feeling he will carry on."

Some have suggested however that he may quit sooner rather than later if Ferrari's long run of dominance comes to an end and younger rivals start to beat him on a regular basis.

Todt and other key Ferrari bosses such as technical director Ross Brawn also have contracts expiring at the end of 2006.

Schumacher has scored just two points in three races so far this season and needs to win Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Ferrari's home circuit, to get back into the Championship battle.

The German has won five times in the last six years at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit. Renault have won the first three races, with Alonso triumphant in the last two.

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