Alonso deal worth $96m

UPDATE New estimates are putting Fernando Alonso's '07 McLaren wage at as much as $30m a year. Over a maximum of four years, the title holding Spaniard could earn $120 million by 2010.

If true, the 24-year-old will soon become the second highest earner in formula one, just behind Michael Schumacher and ahead of 2005 rival Kimi Raikkonen.

At Renault next year, however, Fernando Alonso will earn about $9m. Not surprisingly, then, Spain's 'Marca' newspaper – happily pronouncing the McLaren contract – ran with a headline that yelled 'McLonso!'

However, Ferrari deflected suggestions that the movements at Renault and McLaren have much to do with them, even if it is suggested that Raikkonen's most likely move is to Maranello, and that Michael Schumacher might not want to stick around next to the Finn beyond 2006.

The red team's Schumacher-Felipe Massa pairing next year is only contractually in place for a single season.

''I expect it will be late spring before we have to make any decisions,'' a spokesman told the British 'Guardian' newspaper.

12/19/05 World champion Fernando Alonso's newly unveiled McLaren deal is for three years, not counting an optional fourth formula one season, to include 2010.

The F1 grapevine is also whispering that the 24-year-old's switch from Renault next year will almost certainly double his annual retainer, bringing his haul from $12m (US) to about $24m.

But some estimates, for example of London's authoritative 'Times' newspaper, put Alonso's yearly bill at up to $37m.

But as well as indicate that Kimi Raikkonen might vacate his silver seat, Monday's bombshell ends speculation that Michael Schumacher counted McLaren as an option for beyond next year.

Former German grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck told Bild: ''If Schumacher has another flop year with Ferrari, he will (retire).''

German daily 'Bild' also revealed that McLaren's Ron Dennis only kicked off negotiations with Spaniard Alonso after the Chinese finale in October.

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