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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 February, 2005, 06:06 GMT
McLaren rejected Schumacher move
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher has accomplished great things with Ferrari
McLaren boss Ron Dennis said his team turned down the chance to sign Michael Schumacher before he started his winning spree with Ferrari.

"We had the opportunity to have Michael but we didn't take it," said Dennis.

"It was about five years ago. There was a discussion and a genuine interest on both sides. It was do-able.

"Could we have arrived at a point where he would have driven for us? I believe so. But we didn't get to the point of saying: 'Do you want to drive for us?'"

Dennis said McLaren's top management and engine partner Mercedes discussed the idea but eventually decided not to take the negotiations any further.

"The collective decision was it was not the right thing to do," Dennis said.

"It wasn't just my decision. It was reached by the people we need to discuss these things with, so it's not something I regret or don't regret.

"That was the opinion we reached as a group and I was one part of it."

We are very fortunate to have two of the five best drivers in the world in our cars
McLaren team principal
Ron Dennis

Dennis said the decision not to go ahead was not based on Schumacher's salary demands - he earns a reputed $30m at Ferrari.

But he said he felt McLaren had suffered as a company when the team paid Ayrton Senna $1m a race in his final year with the team in 1993.

"I felt I was a significant contributing factor to paying Ayrton more money than this company could afford and the way we paid it was to the detriment of our engineering resource," Dennis said.

"Having said that, he won five races that year in a car that was the most technically advanced car probably ever made, and they were five phenomenal races.

"And even now if you asked me would I have paid that money to have those wins, yes."

Dennis said he was excited about the prospects of his new driver line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"We are very fortunate to have two of the five best drivers in the world in our cars," Dennis said.

"And there is not a member of our company who does not relish the thought of how well they are going to do."

He added that he thought 2005 would be a much more competitive season that last year, when Schumacher won 13 of the 18 races.

"I think we will see this year some of the best racing there has ever been in F1," Dennis said.


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