Mercedes GP launched their new Silver Arrow car on Monday, but the real fire-power in the German team’s camp is set to be the renewed partnership between Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn.
Brawn was in Schumacher’s pits for all seven of his world title wins — two at Benetton and five at Ferrari — and Brawn’s involvement at Mercedes was a significant factor in enticing Schumacher back to Formula One.
Having retired in 2006, the 41-year-old Schumacher has broken his three-year hiatus to sign a three-year contract to race for Mercedes which will reunite him with Brawn ahead of the new season which starts in Bahrain on March 14.
Schumacher has made no secret of his desire to win an eighth world drivers’ championship title with Brawn as team principal at Mercedes and Nico Rosberg as his team-mate.
“We have everything it takes to succeed, but it is one thing to have the correct ingredient and another to manage it,” he said.
“With the experience of Ross and with all the know-how of Mercedes: I am sorry, but there can only be one target for us to achieve.”
Even though Schumacher retired after the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006, he stayed in touch with Brawn and the chance to work together again proved too strong.
“We have been in contact almost every year, when Ross went to Honda [in 2007 as team principal], he sort of suggested there was an option, but I wasn’t ready for it,” said Schumacher.
“We always kept in contact: sometimes he asked serious questions [about working together] sometimes it was a joke.
“When he called me at the end of last year, I knew why.”
Brawn will be responsible for making sure the Silver Arrow car is in perfect condition when the season starts and the 55-year-old Briton said he is excited about the chance to work with Schumacher once again.
“Working with Michael again is a treat, it is something I didn’t think would happen again and it is something I am excited about,” said Brawn.
“Nico is an exciting prospect and I think he will be good for Michael — it will also help him to see how a world champion operates.”
Mercedes face stiff opposition in their assault on the world drivers’ championship from McClaren’s Lewis Hamilton and current champion Jenson Button, as well as Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
“We are looking forward to closing the gap behind the other teams and we hope to have success in our cars, that is the aim,” said Schumacher.
“It is rare to have two or three teams in close competition like last year, but this year might also be an exception again.
“It doesn’t really matter honestly: we are there to win whoever we are up against.”
And in terms of his advancing years, Schumacher says he has nothing to prove.
“I just want to prove to myself that I am still able to do it,” said the German.
“The main reason I am doing it is because of the thrill.
“I feel a huge sense of excitement just to drive and compete at the highest level.
“It was great to have a three-year break, but now I see no reason why I can’t do it again at the highest level.
“Whether a driver is young or experienced, it doesn’t matter really.
“When you are in the car, you don’t look how old or who he is, you just look at doing better than he does.”
Having won five consecutive world titles with Ferrari, Schumacher says there will be no divided loyalties when the racing begins.
“There is quite a lot of my history and a part of my heart is [Ferrari] red and you can’t forget all the good moments we have had together,” he said.
“I am really looking forward to seeing some of my friends who I worked with for so long.
“I am still friends with them, we can compete, but it doesn’t mean we have to forget what has happened in the past. It is still deep in my heart.” — AFP