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Eddie Irvine backs Michael Schumacher for 2010 title

ESPNF1 Staff
December 23, 2009 « Ferrari unveils new simulator | »
Eddie Irvine is confident Michael Schumacher will make a successful return © Sutton Images

Eddie Irvine thinks his ex-Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher will be able to challenge for the championship when he returns to Formula One next season.

On Wednesday, Mercedes GP confirmed Schumacher as its driver, putting an end to months of speculation about his future. Irvine told ESPNF1 that Schumacher will be just as competitive at his new team as world champion Jenson Button was when he drove for it last season.

"For sure Schumacher is fast enough to win races again and there is no comparison between Michael and Jenson in terms of ability," Irvine said. "Jenson won the world title this year so Michael can win it next year in the right car, and even if he doesn't have a competitive car, we have seen that Michael can do incredible things."

Many have questioned the motivation behind Schumacher's decision to return, but Irvine reckons he was not being fulfilled by his advisory position at Ferrari.

"I think he's just bored," Irvine said. "When he was going to the races with Ferrari he was probably thinking 'what the hell am I doing here?' There was no point in him going to the race as an advisor because he didn't know enough of that side of the business, so he really didn't have a job. He was just turning up as a poster boy. At least now he has a proper job."

Schumacher will be paired with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, but Irvine said the seven-time world champion would have no problem asserting himself as the No.1 driver.

"The fastest guy will be the No.1 and that's always been the case wherever Michael has been," he added. "If Nico goes quicker than him then vice-versa but I don't expect it to happen."