Norbert Haug has denied a game of "contract poker" is shaping up between Mercedes and Michael Schumacher.
Team boss Ross Brawn said this week that Mercedes will decide the identity of Nico Rosberg’s 2013 teammate this summer, prompting reports that – in fact – only Schumacher possesses a unilateral option to extend his expiring contract. The 43-year-old then came out and rejected the notion he will make a decision before October. "The situation is that we will get together in peace," Mercedes’ motor racing director Haug told the broadcaster Sky, as the speculation ramps up.
Speaking at Silverstone he denied one party is putting pressure on the other. "It is very important that there is a mutual decision," said Haug. "It was rumoured that it is Michael’s choice, but Michael is always the first to emphasise that we must agree as a team. "There is no ‘contract poker’," the German said. He ruled out the possibility that Schumacher could be testing the water on the driver market, Haug insisting that he is "an integral part of the silver arrows" and "not flirting with another team". "That means we can allow ourselves the time we need," said Haug.
He did not say whether Schumacher appears headed for a new contract, or back to retirement. "We will see. If we knew now, then we would announced it now," said Haug. "But we are not ready and we are giving ourselves the time we need." In fact, Schumacher sounds very likely to race on, comparing his work at Mercedes to the rebuilding phase at Ferrari that led to five consecutive titles. "I do not see significant differences between what I did then and what I’m trying to achieve here," the seven time world champion told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Asked if he still has the hunger and ability to race on, Schumacher added: "After retiring and turning 40, I thought my career was over, but here I am! "I don’t know what will happen from now on, but I’m fit, I have no physical problems and I still feel strong." Teammate Rosberg, however, sounded mischievously tired of all the questions he is facing regarding Schumacher’s looming decision. "Yes, he is staying two years. But he wants 43 million euros, which is crazy," he told Berliner Zeitung newspaper, before laughing: "Just kidding! I honestly don’t know what he’s doing."
Source: GMM, Image: Mercedes AMG