Rumour: New contracts for Schumacher and Vettel

Mercedes has not ruled out extending its contract with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel is close to agreeing a contract extension with Red Bull.

That is the claim of Germany's Sport Bild, reporting that the reigning world champion will sign up through 2014.
Currently, the 23-year-old's deal is set to expire at the end of this season, even though an 'option' is expected to also keep him with the Milton Keynes based team in 2012.

But team boss Christian Horner and owner Dietrich Mateschitz - although binding Mark Webber for the 2011 season only - have expressed eagerness to keep Vettel for a much longer term.

The 2010 title winner has recently been musing a future switch to grandees Ferrari or Mercedes, but Sport Bild said Red Bull is offering him a new retainer of EUR 10 million per year. The report also said Vettel will be given more free time, for example by limiting his PR appearances.

Dr Helmut Marko confirmed the talks: "We are in the talking phase and nothing is signed yet. It's going to take some time yet."

It is also expected that Adrian Newey will stay at Red Bull until at least 2014.

"We have bound until and including 2014 all of our most important pillars," Marko added.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, the last test day of the 2011 pre-season for Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Mercedes is close to a complete wash-out.

It has rained too much even for meaningful wet-tyre testing "and there is no sign of improvement on the horizon", said Ferrari.

Haug: Schumacher can stay beyond 2012 with pleasure

Currently, despite his disappointing return to F1 last year, the seven time world champion's deal is not set to expire until the end of next season.

But Norbert Haug, German marque Mercedes' competition director, admitted to Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he can imagine teaming up with the famous 42-year-old in 2013 as well.

"If Michael wants it and we can agree on a right price -- with pleasure," said Haug.

After fitting a late and major upgrade for the W02 car, Mercedes had a strong end to the 2011 pre-season period.

"Michael looks really strong," admitted team boss Ross Brawn. "He could surprise some people this year."

Before leaving Barcelona where the last winter test before the Australian season opener is held, Schumacher smiled as he admitted his best time was "not bad".

"On the favourites list, they are now climbing to the top," admitted Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Referring to the final Barcelona test, former triple world champion and commentator Niki Lauda said: "It was a big step forward. The times were great."
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