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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 10:05 GMT
Renault deny Ralf deal
Ralf Schumacher
Schumacher and Williams are in disagreement over pay
Renault have denied having any talks about signing Williams driver Ralf Schumacher for 2005.

Schumacher's manager Willi Weber told German newspaper Bild he had secured a deal with Renault boss Flavio Briatore and a contract was "a formality".

But Briatore said in a statement: "I talked to Willi Weber in Melbourne - we are friends, so that is normal.

"However, at no time did we discuss, or have we discussed, a possible future for Ralf Schumacher in a Renault car."

Weber said the 28-year-old driver had agreed details with Briatore, pending final summit talks with Williams chief Frank Williams.

Talks between Weber and Williams have stalled because of their differing assessments of how much Schumacher should be paid.

Weber said: "In Bahrain [on 4 April] we will have a last meeting with Frank Williams. If we cannot agree Ralf will leave."

Toyota link

He added: "Ralf is not compelled to stay. Ralf won't be led around by his nose. If we don't reach agreement, Ralf will leave BMW (Williams)."

News of a possible deal with Renault surprised F1 insiders, as it was widely considered that Schumacher was on the verge of signing for Toyota in 2005.

And Renault are tipped to draft Jaguar driver Mark Webber, who is managed by Briatore, into their team to partner Fernando Alonso.

Webber is also a leading target for Williams, who are losing Juan Pablo Montoya to McLaren next year as well as the likelihood of Schumacher's exit.

Ralf, the younger brother of six-times world champion Michael, has been unhappy at Williams for some time.

"Even if me and my manager Willi Weber would find it hard to leave behind our friends at BMW, there's a chance it could happen," he admitted recently.

"It would be sad but I can't allow myself to be treated like that by Williams. But I find it hard to understand certain things that have happened these past few months."

Schumacher claimed that Williams accused him of only being interested in money.

"Frank Williams says I'm nothing but a money-grabber. I can only laugh at that," said, who was fourth in last year's drivers' championship.

"He knows that I would accept to cut my current salary in half."

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