Niki Lauda is sure Michael Schumacher will return to the top step of the podium this year.
As Mercedes took a step forwards with its new W03 car in 2012, it was the famous seven time world champion’s teammate Nico Rosberg who tasted success first, securing pole and victory in China last month. But triple world champion Lauda told Germany’s Bild newspaper: “Michael Schumacher will win this year.
“Finally Mercedes are good enough to be able to attack the best.”
Schumacher, 43, has not been on the podium since he returned to F1 in 2010.
The German has also played down the team’s chances on the demanding Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, even though Mercedes is debuting a new ultra-light carbon gearbox in Barcelona.
Lauda, meanwhile, played down Schumacher’s widely-reported criticisms of this year’s Pirelli tyres, which have seen him labelled either a sore loser or a spoil-sport amid the exciting 2012 season.
“Schumi can’t spoil Formula One,” laughed the Austrian legend. “He has been in the business so many years — he knows how it works. I see Rosberg’s success as spurring him on rather than frustrating him. He will fight through it,” predicted Lauda.