The question of when Michael Schumacher will retire has been asked many times and it seems the answer may be forthcoming in 2006. The former champion had to give up the title to Renault's Fernando Alonso last year after Ferrari suffered a poor season which relegated Schumacher to third in the standings.
The Maranello squad was not competitive enough to be in the title fight and Schumacher said if the situation continued this season he would not be encouraged to continue racing. "If I don't have the chance to win races and challenge for the title I don't think I'll want to extend my career," he told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
"If we want to progress we need more staff," he added in regard to Ferrari. "In Formula One you cannot afford to stand still. I need to know where we're heading." Schumacher's contract with Ferrari expires at the end of this year and reportedly he will decide his future mid-season.
There have been rumours that Michael, who turned 37 last week, could move to another team but the general consensus of opinion is that the seven-time champion will stay with Ferrari until he quits. He has previously said as much and it does seem unlikely that he would want to start over somewhere else.
Should Schumacher decide it's time to hang up his helmet, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen has persistently been tipped to replace him at Ferrari. Alonso will race for McLaren in 2007 and it's thought that Raikkonen will be the one who departs rather than Juan Pablo Montoya. However, it's only speculation and, as usual, we'll just have to wait and see.
Ferrari has yet to confirm a launch date for its 2006 challenger but it's likely to be towards the end of this month. The team will be back at work on the test track at Jerez next week, as will most of its rivals. So far Toyota is the only team to have revealed its new car but the Renault R26 is due to make its appearance at Jerez.