Michael Schumacher will quit Formula One at the end of 2004, McLaren boss Ron Dennis believes.
Dennis says he would prefer Schumacher to stay in F1
"I don't think he'll be driving in 2005. That's what I think. I don't know," Dennis said.
Ferrari renewing Rubens Barrichello's contract and casting around for young drivers had convinced him, Dennis said.
"They have been out testing the temperature on some of the other drivers. That gives you a little bit of an indication," Dennis added.
But Dennis added that he would prefer the six-time world champion to race on.
"What do we want? I want him to race until 2006 or beyond,
so that we can beat him," he said.
Schumacher's eventual decision to retire would be based on whether he continued to win in 2004, Dennis said.
"I think the thing that will motivate him is failure, not
success," he said.
"If there was a 50-50 chance of him retiring if he wins, I'd
say there would be 20-80 against [retiring] if he loses."
Dennis said his opinion of Schumacher, who has run into a number of controversies in his career, had changed in recent years.
"I think Michael is a fantastic driver," he said.
"I do have a very different opinion to him now than I did
two years ago as I thought some of his starts were questionable and he occasionally gets on the limit in certain overtaking situations.
"I think he is fairer in some of his moves. There are still
moments of indiscretion but they all have them."
Dennis said his driver Kimi Raikkonen and Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya, who is joining the Finn at McLaren in 2005, were two drivers who could be guaranteed to take on Schumacher unflinchingly.
He said Montoya would fit in well with McLaren, who
helped the late Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna to his three
"We believe the environment of McLaren will be a good one
for him," said Dennis.
"He has got that South American approach to his racing that is very reminiscent of Ayrton and we think we know how to get the best out of that."