The Mercedes GP Formula 1 team held its formal launch in Stuttgart, Germany today. Drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg posed with a 2009 Brawn GP car decked out in the new 2010 Mercedes livery. The actual 2010 car will make its debut at the Valencia test, Februrary 1-3.
Schumacher took a number of questions from the press in attendance, and some of his responses may be seen in the video below.
In discussing his motivation for returning to the sport after a three year hiatus, as reported on BBC Sport, Schumacher said, “The main reason (I’m back) is that I feel thrilled about it – I feel an excitement to drive at the highest level of motorsport. Now I feel again, why not something at the high level?”
And in response to a question regarding his current level of fitness, he said, “You’re questioning the neck – there are no issues. I’ve nothing to prove to anybody about my age or anything. I just have to prove to myself that I’m still able (to do it).”
The German ace also fielded a question about the level of competition he’ll be facing in 2010. Various paddock pundits have observed that for much of Schumacher’s career he didn’t face the depth of competition that now exists. It’s been said that Schumacher generally faced a single chief rival, such as Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen or Fernando Alonso, while in the current environment, he’s apt to face stiff competition from three different teams, with drivers such as Alonso (Ferrari), Hamilton (McLaren) and Vettel (Red Bull) all making strong title bids in 2010, along with their respective their team mates.
In response to this suggestion, Schumacher said, “The point is that you are probably comparing to the past (when there was) one team that was able to compete – there are two or three teams now. But you have to pick a point and focus. Last year was a bit of an exception – and it could be again – but you are there to win whoever you have to beat. Whether the drivers are young or experienced – it doesn’t matter. You don’t look how old you are – you just look how to be better than the others.”
It should also be noted that, while it’s true that Schumacher often faced a single chief rival for much of his career, when he first entered the sport, in 1991, he raced against such names as Aytron Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet (all but Mansell were triple-title winners), and he was able to distinguish himself by taking a victory in his first full season, and winning consistent podiums almost from the start. Unfortunately, with the retirements of Prost, Mansell and Piquet, which occurred in fairly quick succession, and the death of Senna, the depth of competition that Schumacher faced began to seem rather meager.
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