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Mercedes Grand Prix has signed a long-term sponsorship agreement with Malaysian oil firm Petronas.

Petronas, which formerly sponsored the BMW Sauber team and had been linked with new Malaysian F1 team Lotus, will become title partner to the German manufacturer.

The team has released a concept image of the car, but the final Petronas-liveried Mercedes will be unveiled at the team's launch, and will take to the track for the first time on February 1 at Valencia.

"Everyone at Mercedes GP is delighted to confirm out long-term agreement with Petronas," said team principal Ross Brawn.

"Our plans for the new season are progressing well, as is the development of our 2010 challenger. We look forward to seeing the car run in the new Silver Arrows and Petronas livery at Valencia."

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug added: "Mercedes-Benz and Petronas will work together both on and off the track. Petronas' home base in Kuala Lumpur is in a fast-growing region for the automotive industry, which makes this new partnership even more valuable."

The team will be known as Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team or Mercedes GP PETRONAS for short.

Also this from Di Montezemelo:
"I hadn't spoken to him since Abu Dhabi but I spoke to him yesterday (Wednesday)," said di Montezemolo about Schumacher's Mercedes-Benz situation.

"He phoned me and he told me that there is a very, very, very strong possibility [of racing for Mercedes-Benz]. Having said that, it is not 100 per cent decided. But that is what he said yesterday morning."

Di Montezemolo confirmed that Ferrari had agreed to release Schumacher from any remaining commitments he had to the Italian team so he could make the switch to Mercedes-Benz in the event of a deal coming off.

Sources have told AUTOSPORT that a deal between Schumacher and Mercedes-Benz has been agreed in principle, but that the matter cannot move forward until the German has been told by medical experts that his neck is 100 per cent ready for an F1 return.

Schumacher hurt his neck in a big motorbike accident earlier this year, and it was the legacy of that injury which forced him to abandon a comeback for Ferrari in the middle of last year.

Once Schumacher has got the medical news that he and Mercedes-Benz need, then it will be a matter of finalising his contract prior to an announcement being made.

Di Montezemolo said that he believed that it was a 'new Schumacher' who was pursuing a future with Mercedes-Benz.

"The real Michael Schumacher always told me he would finish his career at Ferrari," he said.

When asked what he had said to Schumacher during their conversation, di Montezemolo paused before saying: "Don't forget that when you start collaboration with a driver as long ago as we did with Michael, in 1995, over 14 years ago, you are also a friend.

"You can agree and disagree but you remain friends. I won't forget what he did for Ferrari and he won't forget what we did for him."

Di Montezemolo also spoke at length about the struggles Ferrari faced during 2009, having been unable to take the challenge to title rivals Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing.

"All our car architecture - the dimensions of the gearbox, everything - was based on a different interpretation of the rules and, also, we were pushing very hard until the last corner of the last race of '08," he said.

Di Montezemolo also admitted that the season had marked the closest point in his experience to seeing Ferrari quit F1.

"This year was the only one moment since I became chairman in 1991 that I was really minded to stop F1," he said. "It was the unanimous decision of the board that there was too much credibility being lost, too much polemics over the rules and not enough research.

"Now I say thank God that everything is over although we paid a big price because not to have Toyota and BMW and to have Renault in a different situation is not good for F1."

w00t it's virtually a done deal if his neck is okay!
Wonder if Schumi will have anything to say with Ferrari in their road cars, or is his 458 Italia his last project?
Dr. Strangelove
Concept image of the potential livery:

Too bad that there has to be hurt feelings. you kinda wish that Luca could just be like "he's doing what he loves" since I'm sure MS would have talked to Ferrari about driving for them before he went to Mercedes.
I hate comebacks. I have to admit all of this is interesting, but I wish Schumi had just stayed retired.
Dr. Strangelove
QUOTE(moe @ Dec 21 2009, 10:18 AM) *
I hate comebacks. I have to admit all of this is interesting, but I wish Schumi had just stayed retired.

If he can still win, I am OK with it.
Dr. Strangelove
It's official
My Dad is meeting him at the factory in about 10 minutes!

I would only race for Ross Brawn - Michael Schumacher

Full BBC interview
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