Bet on Schumy to claim title No8, insists Brawn

MERCEDES team principal Ross Brawn says he wouldn’t bet against Michael Schumacher claiming an eighth world championship this season.

The 41-year-old retired from F1 back in 2006 after claiming two world titles with Benetton and five with Ferrari – all under the guidance of Brawn.

Now the pair are reunited for the Mercedes team this season after the manufacturer took over champions Brawn GP.

Schumacher locks horns with former world champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, as well as reigning champion, Jenson Button.

But Brawn is backing the class and experience of the German to shine through – but warns it may take him a while to readjust.“If I had to bet on any of them then it is clear that Michael will become world champion,” Brawn said. “Michael is now more relaxed. When he retired in 2006 F1 was a burden for him. Now I can sense his old enthusiasm.

“I do not think he will come out and win the first Grand Prix. He will need a few races to familiarise himself with the other cars and the many new drivers.

“Then I hope to see the old Schumacher. This has always been his strength anyway: to learn and adapt amazingly quickly.”

Meanwhile, Button will make his McLaren debut on 3 February when he puts the new MP4-25 through its paces in Valencia.

Team-mate Hamilton will start the following day.