Ross Brawn believes that Michael Schumacher is still capable of winning Grands Prix after the German made his long-speculated return to the sport.
Schumacher, who will be 41 by the time the Formula One circus rolls into Bahrain in March, has been out of the sport since retiring in 2006. However Brawn is confident that seven-times champion will still be as competitive as before.
“I asked Michael that question and he is the best judge of what he can do,” he told Autosport. “I trust him explicitly and he told me he can do it.
“He has always been his own best critic, the man himself knows what he is capable of. I am very comfortable and confident and put my trust in Michael, and it won’t be misplaced.”
The Mercedes GP team principal also moved to quell any suggestions that Jenson Button had been pushed out of the team to make way for Schumacher.
“I don’t think that is the case,” said Brawn. “We made a good effort to try to find a solution with Jenson and it didn’t work out. Jenson made his decision in the end not to stay. We made a big effort to keep him but it wasn’t possible in the end.
“It overlapped to be honest. I had a loyalty to Jenson but when that started to look difficult I started talking to Michael, and things developed from there.
“Michael and I kept very close over the years and I saw from his disappointment over the summer, when he couldn’t drive a Ferrari, how much passion he still has for the sport. We’re incredibly excited now about the prospect of Michael being part of the team.”
Norbert Haug, the Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports, is also delighted with today s announcement – a move which sees Schumacher link-up with the manufacturer which first placed him on the road to success.
“In April 1991, when I had been in charge of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for just six months, Michael was standing beside me on the balcony one evening. Without the slightest doubt, he said in a low voice: “It s about time that I got into Formula 1â€.
“Michael had just turned 22 years of age and four months later, he made his debut at Spa in a Jordan. Mercedes-Benz helped him to this point and the rest is history: seven World Championship titles, more than any racing driver, 91 Grand Prix wins, more than any racing driver.
“As part of the Mercedes Junior Programme, Michael had raced in Group C sports cars and competed in a few DTM races. Ross Brawn, then our opponent at Jaguar, quickly realised Michael s talent and they went on to win all seven of his Drivers World Championship titles together at Benetton and Ferrari. Our sporting ambition has always been that Michael should drive again where his professional career had started and Michael knew that.
“I am delighted that it will now happen in 2010. I am very much looking forward to working with Michael and everybody at Mercedes-Benz and Daimler extends a very warm welcome to our â€˜apprentice of 19 years ago. That apprentice is now the most successful racing driver of all time.â€