Six-time world champion Michael Schumacher hailed team-mate Rubens Barrichello’s decision to sign a new deal at Ferrari as the “best possible news” today as the German revealed that he might race on beyond 2006.
Despite reports linking Barrichello with a new team, the Brazilian confirmed on Wednesday he was extending his contract with the Italians until 2006, a decision welcomed by Schumacher.
“I think Rubens’ confirmation was the best possible news,” said Schumacher.
“Honestly, there is no better choice than Rubens to be with us.
“It has been a logical and natural decision. It can only be a great practical move so that the team works better.”
Last year Schumacher extended his Ferrari contract until the same point, with many expecting him to call time on his sensational career on expiry.
Schumacher, however, is keeping the door open and revealed that if the hunger to win remains he may well carry on beyond that point.
“I don’t exclude the possibility of racing even after 2006,” Schumacher added at a press conference in Madonna Di Campiglio.
“When I renewed my contract, (Ferrari) president Luca di Montezemolo told me that I could stay as long as I wanted, as long as I felt motivated and fast.
“There is no reason why I should close the door to the future.”
More of a pressing matter for Schumacher is retaining his F1 crown in 2004, when he will look to win what would be a fifth straight title.
He continued: “It is going to be an interesting championship, just like that of 2003. The fight will be very level.
“I start with the same motivation as always. My aim is not so much win at all costs but to feel competitive.
“During the winter I have been racing karts with the same spirit. If I no longer felt that competitive feeling I would quit.”