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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Raikkonen 'to replace Schumacher'
Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen
Schumacher (left) could be replaced by Raikkonen at Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen will replace Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in 2007, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has said.

"Schumacher will end his career at Ferrari. I think he will stop at the end of 2006," Ecclestone told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"And I am ready to bet that, in 2007, Raikkonen will be in a Ferrari.

"I would like it if he were together with (motorcycle world champion) Valentino Rossi, but I don't have any information on that."

Ferrari have long made it clear that they see Raikkonen as a prime target to replace Schumacher when the German retires.

But although Schumacher's contract expires at the end of next season, by which time he will be nearly 38, he has not made public his intentions.

There is a belief in Italian F1 circles that Raikkonen, who is struggling to overhaul Renault rival Fernando Alonso's lead in the world championship this season, has signed some form of contractual option with Ferrari.

But the Finn has played down the claim, insisting he is happy at McLaren.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said on Friday: "Everyone can see Kimi is a fantastic driver, he would be a catch for Ferrari.

"Michael's got to stop one day and the two guys you've got to say appeal are Alonso and Raikkonen."

Michael Schumacher should have given more, being more accessible to the media, to everyone, instead of staying enclosed
Bernie Ecclestone
Ferrari are to give Rossi, who is poised to win his fifth consecutive MotoGP title this season, an extensive testing programme in 2006.

The idea behind it is for both parties to establish whether the Italian is capable of making the switch to four wheels.

Briton John Surtees, who won the F1 championship with Ferrari in 1964, is the only man to have won world titles on both two and four wheels.

Ecclestone also criticised Schumacher in the interview with Gazzetta, saying he was partly responsible for Ferrari's decline in popularity - both TV audiences and fans at tracks have dwindled this season as the team have struggled.

"Italians only come to cheer on Ferrari," Ecclestone said. "And they want to see their cars win. But at the moment Ferrari are in difficulty, I think mainly because of the tyres.

"But in a sense Michael Schumacher should have given more, being more accessible to the media, to everyone, instead of staying enclosed.

"He should realise that people want to talk to him because he is the best, the most popular."


SEE ALSO
Schumi opens door for Raikkonen
26 Aug 05 |  Formula One
Raikkonen rejects Ferrari claim
25 Aug 05 |  Formula One
Mercedes cool on Schumacher link
22 Aug 05 |  Formula One


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