Honda F1 website

AUGUST 31, 2005

A sign of affection from Jean Todt

Jean Todt does not always come across as a man with much affection but he obviously feels strongly enough about Michael Schumacher that he is willing to wait until next Spring to see if Michael will agree to a new contract for 2007 and 2008. In normal circumstances Todt would have tied up his 2007 drivers already. But this does not mean that a man as careful as Todt does not have a number of different back-up plans to cover all eventualities. Although some sources say that a deal is done with Raikkonen, it is hard to imagine that the Finn would agree to a Ferrari deal with Schumacher still in situ. Raikkonen might be so confident that he would beat Michael that he has signed already but such a move seems unlikely for Todt to have made. It is more likely that there is some form of formal option for Raikkonen to go to Maranello if Michael is not there. This is likely to be time-limited to allow Raikkonen other options.

This is a suitable compromise for all concerned and one which makes a lot of sense. Felipe Massa will fit in as the second driver with either man and talk of deals with motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi do no harm at all for Rossi and Ferrari. There is a long list of bikers who have turned to cars although increasing specialization in recent years has reduced the flow. The last F1 driver to be a serious bike racer was Johnny Cecotto, more than 20 years ago. Wayne Gardner did try his hand at F1 in a test with Lotus in 1992 and 1993 with runs in Adelaide and Snetterton. More recently Mick Doohan crashed a Williams while having a test in 1998 and a few months later Max Biaggi had a run with Ferrari but nothing came of the test. Other bikers have switched to cars but in the safer world of touring cars, notably Barry Sheene in the British Touring Car Championship, although ironically Gregg Hansford was killed while racing a Ford Mondeo at Phillip Island in 1995.

Rossi could come into the team at some point if he earns his spurs in testing.