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MARCH 9, 2004

Renault denies Schumacher talks

Flavio Briatore has denied that he is negotiating to sign Ralf Schumacher for 2005 - and that means that someone in Formula 1 circles is not telling the whole truth. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber told a German newspaper that Ralf is close to a deal with Renault but Briatore says that "at no time did we discuss, or have we discussed, a possible future for Ralf Schumacher in a Renault car."

The comments suggest that Schumacher's situation is rather weaker than Weber's statement would seem to have indicated but one must remember that there may be other reasons why Briatore has been so dismissive of the stories. He is involved in a heavy negotiation to work out how much money will be needed to release Mark Webber from his Renault contract for 2005. If Briatore has agreed a deal with Ralf Schumacher, he cannot hope to ask for money from Williams for Webber's release - because he would not have a car to offer to the Australian...