Todt says Michael can retire before '06

Ferrari MD Jean Todt says that the Scuderia's recent confirmation of key personnel within the team through until the end of the 2006 season was done to avoid speculation.

Todt says Michael can retire before '06

Todt confirmed, however, that Michael Schumacher could stop racing at any time before that although his intention now is to see out the new contract.

"Of course he can stop," the Frenchman said. "Everyone knows that I am close to Michael and I think I'd know before anyone what he is thinking. I knew a long time ago that he didn't want to stop but if, one day, he says it's enough, then that's his decision. I'm hardly going to turn up with a lawyer, waving his contract..."

The failure to confirm Rubens Barrichello at the same time as Schumacher, Brawn, Byrne, Todt et al, has, however led to the speculation that Ferrari says it was trying to avoid - namely that Barrichello will be replaced.

Todt, however, claimed that there was nothing unusual in the fact that Barrichello has not been confirmed.

"It was the shame when we renewed the contracts to the end of 2004," he added. "It was not until months later that Rubens was announced, so it's nothing new."

From his own perspective, Todt says that maintaining Ferrari's dream team was his personal motivation for renewing his contract: "I love Ferrari, the team around me and I love success. I'm not young anymore, but I'm not old enough to retire."

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