Rossi, Kimi and Ferrari

UPDATE While Ron Dennis bets on Kimi Raikkonen, billionaire Bernie Ecclestone would put money on the Finnish driver sliding into a pair of red overalls in 2007.

''I think (Michael) Schumacher will stop at the end of 2006,'' the 74-year-old supremo – who also hopes that Valentino Rossi is Kimi's teammate – told the Italian 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper on Saturday.

''I am ready to bet that, in 2007, Raikkonen will be in a Ferrari.''

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, meanwhile, hinted strongly at Monza that Rossi – the Italian MotoGP sensation – does indeed have an eye on switching to four wheels.

''He is a nice guy and very popular with Italians, but we don't need popularity — we need a winning driver,'' he said, referring to the 26-year-old's Ferrari test arrangement.

British F1 commentator Martin Brundle brushed aside those who doubt that Rossi's talent would translate into a race car.

''He's used to more space on the track for overtaking,'' the ex-driver told the Sunday Times, ''so he would trip over people.

'''But it wouldn't be a problem for long. If he wants to be a Ferrari driver he'll be pushing on an open door.''

09/03/05 MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is set to become a regular Ferrari tester next year, and may drive the car once a month.

Maranello's technical director, Ross Brawn, said at Monza that the 26-year-old Italian sensation had 'huge potential' but needs a 'reasonable' program in order to be assessed properly.

Speculation is rabid that Rossi, signed with Yamaha for 2006 only, is eying a four wheel switch to coincide with the end of Michael Schumacher or Felipe Massa's F1 contracts.

Some, though, remain amazed that the team appear serious about giving flamboyant 'Vale' his first ever four wheeled race experience at the wheel of a red grand prix car.

Brawn also did not kick away rumors that Kimi Raikkonen is firmly in the Scuderia's sights.

''It has a nice ring to it,'' he grinned, ''Raikkonen and Rossi. ''(Kimi) would be a catch for Ferrari. Michael's got to stop one day and two guys (who) appeal are Alonso and Raikkonen.''

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