GERMANY: Michael Schumacher sauntered back into the Formula One limelight in Mercedes overalls on Monday (January 25) to kick off his bid for a record eighth title at the ripe old age of 41. Returning to centre stage three years after he retired, the former Ferrari driver looked trim and relaxed as he appeared alongside fellow German Nico Rosberg at a presentation of the Mercedes GP team. “It’s a great emotion and a great feeling I am getting,” said Schumacher, the sport’s most successful driver, in his first public appearance for his new team since announcing his comeback last month.
The car presented to the media at a livery launch was the 2009 Brawn GP that took Britain’s Jenson Button to the title, repainted in the evocative ‘Silver Arrows’ colours of the team’s new owners.
Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 world champion Keke, has joined the Mercedes stables from Williams “It’s a dream come true,” Rosberg said, before adding it was special to have Schumacher as a team-mate. The Mercedes museum was a fitting backdrop for a Mercedes-powered car, albeit largely designed by Honda, that carved its place in Formula One history by winning Brawn the constructors’ crown at their first attempt. The new Mercedes MGP W01, the first “Silver Arrow” since Mercedes last competed as a works team in 1955, will make its debut when testing starts at Spain’s Valencia circuit on February 1. Rosberg has also been assured he will get equal treatment with Schumacher at Mercedes this season despite the gulf between them in achievement and experience. “We don’t have a number one driver and we don’t intend to have a number one driver,” team principal Ross Brawn told reporters at a presentation of the team who won both titles last year as champions Brawn GP.
Schumacher later echoed Brawn’s sentiment. “I don’t see any problems as far as the two of us are concerned. From our ages we are two different generations but I have in the past been the younger driver and had no problems with my colleagues and I don’t see any reason why it should be any different here,” he said. Schumacher will work with Button’s former race engineer Andrew Shovlin, while Rosberg will have Rubens Barrichello’s experienced Jock Clear, who helped Canadian Jacques Villeneuve take the 1997 championship with Williams. The season ahead will have a Germany v Britain sub-plot, with Mercedes fielding an entirely German line-up against McLaren’s all-English selection of Button and 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton. Chairman of Daimler AG, Mercedes-maker, said the team had a clear objective, but wanted a small period of grace. “We want to be the world champions. We want to present the best drivers in the best car to the world. That doesn’t mean that this has to already have happened in the first year. We are a new team.
Give us a little bit of time,” Zetsche said. Schumacher said the reaction from fans about his move to Mercedes and his comeback had been largely very positive.