Ferrari team boss Jean Todt has dismissed suggestions that Michael Schumacher might retire before the start of 2004, adding that the German will be the best he's ever been next season.

Schumacher won a record sixth drivers' championship this year, leading to rumours that he might quit, something he has up to now firmly rejected.

Speaking to British newspaper, The Independent, Todt, commented: "The Michael Schumacher we see next year will be the best Michael Schumacher ever.

"He's as motivated as he has ever been and if he went off the track at times this season, it didn't embarrass him too much as he won the title.

"If he feels he is not competitive enough, that is when he will stop. But he is very intelligent. He loves driving and being with the team and winning races. He never compromises - it's amazing.

"If we don't see him for two or three days, it's because he's off doing some karting. It's in his blood. So next year he will be the best we have ever seen him."

Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn also echoed Todt's sentiments.

"Michael does it because he loves racing and as long as he enjoys working with us and fighting to develop the car, then he will carry on," added Brawn, "He told me recently that he had corrected his karting career; the last major kart race he had done he had been beaten in, but recently he won again. As he put it, he had regained his status in that sport. That shows what the guy is made of.

"I see no sign of reduction in his level of enjoyment. Perhaps he's even enjoying it more. I think he's definitely matured but he is not yet past his peak."



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