Nico Rosberg, and not returning Michael Schumacher, will have the honour of driving the first laps with the new Mercedes GP Formula One car next month, team boss Ross Brawn was quoted on Monday as saying.
“Nico will drive the new car first. That was the plan from the outset, before Michael joined our team,” Brawn said, according to German daily Bild.
Mercedes will hold a team presentation next week in the company’s home town of Stuttgart and the first tests are scheduled to start on February 1 in Valencia, Spain.
While Rosberg will go out first, Schumacher will also have extensive tests to prepare for his comeback. The seven-times world champion Schumacher retired in 2006.
The 2010 season starts on March 14 in Bahrain.
Brawn said he expects that Schumacher will need a few races to reach top form, but rates him higher than title holder Jenson Button and ex-champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
“If I had to bet on one of them I would clearly say that Michael will win the world title,” said Brawn, who was instrumental in all of Schumacher’s world titles for Benetton and Ferrari. — Sapa-dpa