Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore has refuted claims made by Ralf Schumacher’s manager, Willi Weber, that the German driver was set to sign a contract with the French team for 2005.

Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore has refuted claims made by Ralf Schumacher’s manager, Willi Weber, that the German driver was set to sign a contract with the French team for 2005.


It appears Weber’s revelation to German tabloid , in which he said, “every point of the contract (between Schumacher and Renault) has been discussed. The signing of the contract is now a mere formality”, may have been an attempt to increase the pressure on Williams-BMW to reopen contract negotiations with Ralf. Is Weber trying to coax the team’s engine manufacturer, BMW, to exert its influence to help keep Ralf at the Grove-based team?


On Tuesday, Briatore admitted that he spoke to Weber in Melbourne, but denied that the subject of a potential contract between Renault and Schumacher had been discussed.


"I saw Willi Weber in Melbourne," said Briatore, "And we certainly talked to each other – we are friends, so that is perfectly normal. However, at no time did we discuss, or have we discussed, a possible future for Ralf Schumacher in a Renault car."


CARtoday.com reported earlier this year that Ralf was prepared to quit Williams-BMW should it not suggest agreeable terms beyond the end of this season.


“Even if me and my manager would find it hard to leave behind our friends at BMW, there's a chance it could happen," Schumacher said last month. "It would be sad, but I can't allow myself to be treated like that by Williams. I'm not frustrated, but I find it hard to understand certain things that have happened these past few months."


At the weekend BMW Motorsport director Mario Theissen appeared resigned to losing Schumacher’s services at the end of the season: "Having Ralf involved (in the team) is not the first priority. We have always said that it was most important to get the two quickest drivers we can”.


Ralf moved to Williams in 1999, but has never finished a season higher than fourth in the drivers’ championship standings. Many F1 observers believe he will eventually end up with Toyota for 2005, but Weber has been noticeably quiet on the subject of a potential deal between Ralf and the Japanese team.