It isn’t the first time that rumours concerning Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso have made their way around the Formula One gossip columns, but it is perhaps the first since the seven-times world champion hung up his boots and retired. However, while Schumacher is just an advisor to the company now, only occasionally testing the Formula One cars, he is likely to be an expensive cog in the cost-cutting machine, and his position is to be evaluated according to Stefano Domenicali.
Schumacher is under contract for another season at Maranello, working for both the Formula One team and the road car division. However, at the end of 2009 his contract is up and team bosses have stated that nothing has been decided regarding Michael’s future at Ferrari.
He still has a contract with us for next year, so he’ll stay with us. The activities he has done with us both in the road car department and in the racing one will carry on.
However, and I’m just saying this from a personal point of view, it’s clear that everything must be assessed for what it can bring. So, during the season we’ll have discussions to understand whether this collaboration will keep on going. Stefano Domenicali.
Which loosely translated means that Ferrari are feeling the pinch as the global economy slides over the cliff edge, and with undoubtedly fewer people buying Ferrari and Fiat road cars, the money available to keep Schumacher on the books must be depleting. Ferrari understand that the money they have must be put into the correct departments to ensure the company survives and the team continue to be successful. And while Schumacher is almost certainly a treasured asset, hos contributions may not be worth the pay packet Ferrari pay out every month.
However, while one world champion may be about to sign-on, another looks to have a continued relationship with Formula One. Fernando Alonso did his reputation a huge amount of good work last season upon his return to Renault. Although the R28 wasn’t the greatest car on the grid by some margin, the progress made during the campaign was visible for all to see, culminating in two hard-fought and well-deserved victories. Alonso is still a wanted man, and I doubt the desire to race for Ferrari has waned in his heart.
Rumours starting in Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport speculate that the Spaniard has signed a four-year deal with the Scuderia, starting in 2011. Alonso has been open about his wish to drive for the Maranello team, and during 2008 the rumour mill was in full swing; Kimi Raikkonen seemed to be off-form and few expected Felipe Massa to rise to the challenge in the way that he did. However, Alonso’s hopes were dashed when Raikkonen secured an extension to his contract, meaning Alonso had little choice but to re-sign to Renault.
According to Autosport who have reported on the translated article, there are get-out clauses on both sides of the agreement between Alonso and Ferrari, and although 2011 is the proposed start-date, the Spaniard could be installed into a Ferrari in 2010 if Kimi Raikkonen doesn’t improve during this upcoming season. Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo continues to state that the team have both current drivers under contract until the end of 2010, but also states that “life is long and in the future we will see”, hinting that Alonso is still young and has plenty of time left in his career to make the move to Italy.