Michael Schumacher has told Ferrari that there is a "very, very, very strong possibility" he will race for Mercedes-Benz in F1 next year, team president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed.
"I hadn't spoken to him [Schumacher] since Abu Dhabi but I spoke to him on Wednesday," said di Montezemolo.
"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.
Reports suggest the only thing holding up the deal is confirmation that Schumacher's neck has sufficiently healed, following a big motorbike accident earlier this year. It was the legacy of that injury which forced him to abandon a comeback for Ferrari in the middle of this season.
When asked what he had said to Schumacher during their conversation, di Montezemolo said: "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.