Schumacher was so invigorated by his pole position and podium result in Bahrain that he is prepared to put pen to paper and extend his Ferrari contract - even if it puts him in the same line-up as Kimi Raikkonen next season.
Reports in the seven-times world champion's native Germany claim that a deal is likely in the next week or so, confirming Schumacher at Maranello for the next year at least. If the F1 rumour mill is spinning correctly, that could present him with possibly the biggest challenge of his career, and definitely of his Ferrari days, as Raikkonen is also tipped to have signed a deal with the Scuderia that would see him racing in red from 2007.
Schumacher and manager Willi Weber reached an agreement with Ferrari after the final pre-season test in Bahrain, and further success at the opening race weekend only strengthened the German's resolve to prolong his career in the face of renewed retirement speculation.
While Schumacher insisted that his future lay 99.9 per cent with the Scuderia, rather than ending his career with another team, few expected him to extend his racing career for too long, particularly if faced with another front-line name. With respect to Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, none has shown the ability to outshine the German, but the belief is that the likes of Raikkonen and new world champion Fernando Alonso may now have the edge on Schumacher, particularly after 2005.