Looks like Rossi might be staying in motoGP for the 800cc switch afterall?
Michael Schumacher was apparently so invigorated by his pole position and podium result in Bahrain that he is prepared to put pen to paper and extend his Ferrari contract - even if it puts him in the same line-up as Kimi Raikkonen next season.
Reports in the seven-times world champion's native Germany claim that a deal is likely in the next week or so, confirming Schumacher at Maranello for the next year at least. If the F1 rumour mill is spinning correctly, that could present him with possibly the biggest challenge of his career, and definitely of his Ferrari days, as Raikkonen is also tipped to have signed a deal with the Scuderia that would see him racing in red from 2007.
According to Die Bild, Schumacher and manager Willi Weber reached an agreement with Ferrari after the final pre-season test in Bahrain, and further success at the opening race weekend only strengthened the German's resolve to prolong his career in the face of renewed retirement speculation.
While Schumacher insisted that his future lay 99.9 per cent with the Scuderia, rather than ending his career with another team, few expected him to extend his racing career for too long, particularly if faced with another front-line name. With respect to Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, none has shown the ability to outshine the German, but the belief is that the likes of Raikkonen and new world champion Fernando Alonso may now have the edge on Schumacher, particularly after 2005.
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The 'Iceman' will have noted Ferrari's performance in Bahrain, particularly in the light of further mechanical problems on his McLaren Although he fought back to third from the rear of the grid, Raikkonen was clearly unhappy at having his qualifying effort upset by suspension failure before he had even set a time on Saturday.
Reports in Finland, quoting an unnamed Ferrari 'insider', already claim that Raikkonen has turned his back on a substantial pay offer from McLaren because his name is already on a Ferrari contract for next season, following Alonso's decision to leave Renault for the Woking team. Should all the conjecture prove to be true, the Finn would remain part of F1's 'dream team', having parted from McLaren and Juan Montoya - reckoned to be the best pound-for-pound pairing in 2005-06 - and teamed up with Schumacher, regardless of whether the German is viewed as a waning superstar or not.
Schumacher's decision to remain at Maranello for at least one more year is expected to tie in with another rumour, that the technical 'dream team' that helped guide the Scuderia out of its 1990s mire is also set to remain on board for another year or so.
Watch this space....