• Mercedes

Brawn plays down Schumacher expectations

ESPNF1 Staff
January 18, 2010 « Briatore to sue FIA for loss of income | »
Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher have been reunited at Mercedes © Sutton Images

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn believes a lack of pre-season testing might prevent Michael Schumacher from winning races at the start of the new season.

Schumacher recently drove a GP2 car in preparation for his return, but will have to share just 15 days of testing in the new Mercedes F1 car with his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Brawn, who worked with him on all seven of his title victories, said "time is short" for Schumacher to reacclimatise to F1 after spending three years in retirement.

"I don't think Michael can win the first race," he told the German newspaper Bild. "He will need a few races to become accustomed to these cars and the many new drivers. But then I hope to see the famous Schumi. That was always his strength: to adapt and learn incredibly quickly."

The strong relationship between Brawn and Schumacher has led to speculation that he will receive preferential treatment, as he did at Ferrari. However, Rosberg, who agreed to a 2010 drive before Schumacher and Mercedes had any involvement in the team, has insisted that he and his illustrious team-mate will receive equal treatment.

"It is natural that the interest is different for someone who is a seven-time world champion," he told French newspaper La Tribune. "But everyone is making an effort to put us on a footing of equality. Obviously the closeness of Ross to Michael made me dubious but I have spoken with Ross and now I'm sure there will be no difference between us. That is the philosophy of Mercedes and something that is very important."

Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche has confirmed that the management of the drivers will be entirely Brawn's responsibility. "For these decisions, we have a team boss, Ross Brawn, who is one of the best. He will decide what is best in terms of the drivers."

Brawn has confirmed that Rosberg will drive the new car before Schumacher at the opening day of pre-season testing on February 1.