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tlr online
10-03-04, 00:57
Renault have denied having any talks about signing Williams driver Ralf Schumacher for 2005. Schumacher's manager Willi Weber told German newspaper Bild he had secured a deal with Renault boss Flavio Briatore and a contract was "a formality". But Briatore said in a statement: "I talked to Willi Weber in Melbourne - we are friends, so that is normal. "However, at no time did we discuss, or have we discussed, a possible future for Ralf Schumacher in a Renault car." Weber said the 28-year-old driver had agreed details with Briatore, pending final summit talks with Williams chief Frank Williams.

Talks between Weber and Williams have stalled because of their differing assessments of how much Schumacher should be paid. Weber said: "In Bahrain [on 4 April] we will have a last meeting with Frank Williams. If we cannot agree Ralf will leave." He added: "Ralf is not compelled to stay. Ralf won't be led around by his nose. If we don't reach agreement, Ralf will leave BMW (Williams)."

News of a possible deal with Renault surprised F1 insiders, as it was widely considered that Schumacher was on the verge of signing for Toyota in 2005. And Renault are tipped to draft Jaguar driver Mark Webber, who is managed by Briatore, into their team to partner Fernando Alonso.

www.bbc.co.uk (http://www.bbc.co.uk)