Ferrari would let Schumacher go: chief

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By Gavin Jones

ROME (Reuters) - Ferrari will not stand in Michael Schumacher's way if the seven-times Formula One world champion decides to come out of retirement and race for Mercedes, president Luca di Montezemolo told Reuters on Monday.

The 40-year-old has worked as a consultant for the Italian team since retiring at the end of 2006 but reports say he is close to signing with fellow Germans Mercedes, who have taken over world champions Brawn.

Schumacher announced in September he would work as a consultant for Ferrari for another three years. Asked if Ferrari would enforce the deal, Montezemolo said: "No, not binding."

"It's clear that if he decides to take another road our (consultancy) agreement will no longer be valid, that is logical. You can't work with a competitor and with us at the same time," Montezemolo told Reuters in an interview.

"I still haven't spoken to him about it. He is only a dear friend, not a team member. He is a consultant for our road cars."

Schumacher was forced to abort plans for a Formula One comeback with Ferrari because of fitness concerns in August.

He was due to replace the injured Felipe Massa but pulled out following medical checks on a neck injury sustained in a motorcycle accident earlier this year that caused him pain during testing.

With his neck problem better, Ferrari had talked about including him in their driver lineup if plans to have a third car on the grid next season were agreed.

However, Formula Ones bosses blocked the three car idea.

(Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Justin Palmer)