Former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore believes that Michael Schumacher is more than capable of winning in 2010 and that the German would not have returned if he himself had not thought so.
The Italian, currently undergoing an appeal against his lifetime ban from motorsport, overseen Schumacher’s first two world championships at Benetton in 1994 and 1995.
“I think it’s a good thing for F1 (that he’s returned),” Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Knowing him, I think he’s reflected on it for a long time, and if he’s decided to come back it’s because he’s convinced he can still be quick.”
Briatore is adamant that Schumacher retired too early from Formula One and that his comeback was more-or-less inevitable.
“I’m convinced that, had he been physically fit, he would have come back last season already with Ferrari,” he claimed. “Michael belongs to that category of racing drivers who just can’t have a normal life, who can’t stay away from racing.
“And besides, I’ll repeat an old idea of mine: when he quit three years ago, he wasn’t ready to retire, he could have been competitive for two or three more seasons.”
Although the Italian is sure that Schumacher will be fit enough to compete at the highest level, he could not predict that the 41-year-old will challenge for the title next season and believes that much will depend on Mercedes GP’s overall package.
“Well, I don’t know that,” he added. “For instance I believe that Ferrari will be extremely strong next year with Alonso and Massa.
“If you have a race-winning car, it doesn’t matter much.
“The last season demonstrates this clearly, because the driver who’s become world champion is certainly not the best on the scene.
“I’ll just say that Ross [Brawn] knows him well and that Mercedes has always chased him. But then I repeat: the car is fundamental.”