Brawn: Schumacher can be champion

Ross Brawn is confident that Michael Schumacher will win this year’s world championship, despite having not raced in Formula One since the end of 2006.

At 41, Schumacher will be the oldest driver on the grid when the teams’ line-up for the first race of the season in Bahrain. Despite this, Brawn, who was instrumental in persuading the German to come out of retirement, believes that he will be as competitive as ever.

“If I had to bet on any of them then it is clear that Michael will become world champion,” Brawn has been quoted as saying by the German newspaper Bild.

“Michael is now more relaxed. When he retired in 2006, F1 was a burden for him. Now I can sense his old enthusiasm.”

However the Mercedes GP team principal did concede that Schumacher will take time to get up to speed with today’s Formula One machinery – with restrictions on pre-season testing meaning that the seven-times champion will have limited time to prepare.

“I do not think he will come out and win the first grand prix. He will need a few races to familiarise himself with the other cars and the many new drivers. Then I hope to see the old Schumacher,” added Brawn.

“This has always been his strength anyway: to learn and adapt amazingly quickly.”