London: World champion Michael Schumacher is likely to decide before the Italian Grand Prix in September whether he will continue driving after 2004, his manager Willi Weber said Tuesday.
“Maybe it will be by Monza or maybe later. But not much later,” Weber said. “If he continues after 2004 it will be with Ferrari, that’s for sure.”
Schumacher, 34, is chasing a record sixth world title this year and has a contract with Ferrari until the end of 2004.
The most successful driver in the team’s illustrious history, Schumacher said in March he had a standing offer to stay on and had set no time-frame for a decision.
Weber, who has guided Schumacher’s career since his go-karting days in Kerpen, said the German would certainly respect his current deal. “He’s under contract for next year, so nothing happens. We are talking about after 2004.
“I think the team will also want to know what the situation is,” said Weber. “I believe he will say this year whether he continues driving or not.
He is four points adrift of McLaren’s Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the championship after seven races. He finished third in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The German, who won the title with six races to spare in 2002, has won three times this year and has said he will continue for as long he is having fun in Formula One.
Media speculation has linked Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, winner in Monaco, to Ferrari as prime candidate to replace Schumacher. The Colombian, who has a contract at Williams to the end of 2004, denied the talk Sunday.