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Schumacher and Ferrari

THE German magazine BILD last week reported that Fiat has offered Michael Schumacher $82m to stay with the Ferrari team for another three seasons. Both Schumacher and Ferrari denied there was any truth in the story although it is likely that there are already moves being made over Schumacher's future employment.

Michael's current Ferrari contract, which began in 1996 and is believed to be worth around $20m a year, runs out at the end of 1999. Ferrari is aware that it is inevitable that West McLaren Mercedes will try to secure the services of the German and will be willing to pay whatever it takes to sign up Schumacher for the year 2000. Despite having won two World titles Schumacher shows no signs of losing his hunger for success and is still only 29 years old. Ferrari bosses are also well aware that if Schumacher leaves Ferrari the team they have worked so hard to build in recent years would probably come apart. An offer of $27m a year would therefore be an attractive one for Schumacher although clearly money is not really at issue as Michael already has far more than he can spend.

The rumors may be an attempt by Schumacher and his management to let McLaren know where they believe negotiation for the future should begin.

Michael in the meantime is having a few days of vacation after his heavy pre-season testing schedule. He stopped off in Brunei on the way back from Australia to visit the Sultan of Brunei (brother of Ferrari sponsor Asprey's owner Prince Jefri) and then flew on to his home in Norway.

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