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The German press has gone into

The German press has gone into overdrive with speculation that 2006 may be Michael Schumacher's last season in a Ferrari car


First, the 36-year-old has not yet renewed his Maranello contract - which runs out at the end of next year - after Ferrari endured its worst season, 2005, of the long Schumacher era.

Moreover, sources in the German media insist that major Ferrari backer Vodafone's switch to McLaren may be significant. It is pointed out that Michael, 36, is also personally sponsored by the mobile phone giant, thus reigniting gossip of his own silver clad swap.

Schumacher's Vodafone deal also runs out in 2006.

His manager Willi Weber, in the 'TZ' publication, said Vodafone's move does not 'necessarily' mean that Schumacher will follow, but added that 'everything is possible'.

The 'Bild' newspaper, meanwhile, reports that Ferrari's Vodafone loss will leave a hole of about $50 million in the reds' annual budget.

The daily tabloid also said that team boss Jean Todt is looking to retire in Malaysia at the end of 2006, and also that technical brain Ross Brawn - similarly out of contract for 2007 and beyond - is beating off the offers of rival teams.

The PaddockTalk Perspective:

We think it is much too early to speculate, although deals could be made right now that will ultimately lead to this future...

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