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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 12:50 GMT
Schumi refuses to rule out switch
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has refused to rule out the possibility of driving for another team in 2007.

The seven-times world champion, 37, also says he will decide midway through the Formula One season whether he will retire at the end of the 2006 season.

He said: "If I continue after 2006 then it is 99% that it will be with Ferrari. I don't want to lie.

"It is 1% for another possibility, if I decide to continue. I see my future with Ferrari but who knows?"

Schumacher said his decision would be based on whether his Ferrari team is competitive.

"It doesn't mean we have to win the championship but we have to be in position to do so," he said.

"I want to at least be in a position where I'm able to win, be up there with the top drivers."

I made some errors and on certain things we didn't work together as best we could
Michael Schumacher on 2005

Earlier this week, Schumacher told a German magazine that Ferrari had grown complacent in 2005.

"After all the successes, carelessness crept in," he said, adding: "If we want to progress we need more staff.

"If I don't have the chance to win races and challenge for the title then I don't think I'll be very keen to extend my career."

But Schumacher now says he was encouraged by early tests for the new season which begins in Bahrain on 12 March.

"Now we seem to be on the right pace and are surprisingly quick," he said. "We have been doing good work for some time.

"We've had various tests obviously during the winter and things have in general improved compared to what was our position and situation last year.

Schumacher, whose Ferrari contract runs out at the end of the year, will be the oldest driver on the grid in the new season, having turned 37 earlier this month.

He only won one race last year, in the US Grand Prix in which only six cars started, and finished third in the standings - well behind Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

It was a disappointing campaign from a man who has won 84 races in his career and claimed five titles in a row from 2000 to 2004 to add to his championships in 1994 and 1995.

"I made some errors and on certain things we didn't work together as best we could," Schumacher said. "It woke everyone up a bit.

"It's normal though after winning five consecutive years."

Five-times MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi has been linked with joining Ferrari in the future as a possible replacement for Schumacher.

Rossi has had three separate tests with the Scuderia, the most recent in November, and Schumacher believes the Italian could make the grade if he decided to move.

"'I'm pretty sure if he wanted to decide on Formula One, he would have his options," said Schumacher.

"He seemed to go pretty well in the tests he has been doing with us, but then there is always the question mark - can you do the last little bit?

"That's always something you have to find out yourself after more experience in the car and I'm not sure he wants to do this or not."




SEE ALSO
Schumacher tips Ferrari revival
02 Jan 06 |  Formula One
Schumacher sets pace in testing
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Schumacher shuns his annual break
12 Dec 05 |  Formula One
Alonso the next Schumi - Briatore
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Schumacher handed FIA reprimand
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Ferrari to step up Rossi interest
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