Mercedes on Tuesday gave the strongest hint yet that Michael Schumacher is set to stay with the Brackley based team beyond 2012.
The seven time world champion returned from retirement with the German team in 2010, and has been widely criticised for failing to live up to the hype of his meteoric initial career. But 2011 was undoubtedly a better season for the 43-year-old, moving team boss Ross Brawn to hint that Schumacher could receive a new deal for 2013.
“At the moment we aren’t talking to any other drivers,” Brawn told Sport Bild magazine. “I am also assuming that he is not talking to other teams. So if Michael is still enjoying what he’s doing while bringing in the results that we expect, then why not? He definitely has not said that he is toying with the idea of stopping.”
Mercedes’ competition director Norbert Haug added that the great German is “still one of the best race drivers in the field”.
Haug said Schumacher is often as fast or faster than his younger teammate Nico Rosberg, which is impressive “because Nico is undoubtedly among the five best drivers in F1”, he is quoted by FAZ newspaper.
Added Brawn: “It took a little longer than planned for Michael to be where he wanted to be – and even longer than I would have thought.
“The first year was difficult,” admitted Schumacher’s former Ferrari colleague. “I think he did an excellent job in the races in the second year, while Nico was slightly better than him in qualifying.
“I think that really frustrated him (Schumacher),” added Brawn.