Bernie Ecclestone has suggested Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher should think very carefully before making a play for a seat at Force India in Formula 1 in 2008, questioning whether the time is not right for them both to hang up their helmets from the sport.

The duo - who between them have started 374 grands prix and were team-mates at Jordan ten years ago - are both in the reckoning to join the former Spyker outfit, and will be in testing action for the Silverstone-based squad at Jerez in southern Spain next week. They are believed to be up against Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Franck Montagny, Roldan Rodriguez and Giedo van der Garde amongst others for a drive at the back-of-the-grid team.

Ecclestone, however, gave short shrift to the notion that one or both of the pair would be able to re-ignite their F1 careers at Force India, recently purchased and renamed by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya. He argued that given the opportunities they had received they really should have notched up more than six (Schumacher) and three (Fisichella) victories respectively during their time in the top flight, adding neither had very much to gain from a move to a comparative F1 minnow merely to prolong their stints in the uppermost echelon.

"Both were at decent teams for some time when they should have been doing better jobs," the sport's supremo asserted in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, translated into English on the official Formula 1 website. "They should think about whether it is intelligent to change to small teams.

"Look at Renault. If in 2005 and 2006 they would have had only Fisichella in the team, they would not have known they had a car good enough to win the championship.

"You have to say that nobody knows how good the Toyota actually was [this year]. Maybe the Toyota was a good car and maybe it was just that the drivers did not get the most out of it."

Schumacher, though - who along with Montagny has close links with Mallya through the Indian's sponsorship of Toyota this year with his Kingfisher brand - insisted he would simply take one step at a time, and not rush into any decisions.

"For any driver, driving for a young dynamic team with high ambitions is a good opportunity," the 32-year-old German stated, "but at the moment it is just one test to see how we get on working together and whether this is possible. I think I can help the team with its development programme, but we will see."

 

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