His new Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate might be the one with the daunting reputation and glittering CV, but Nico Rosberg has thrown down the gauntlet to Michael Schumacher ahead of the F1 2010 campaign, by revealing that he wants to learn from the sport's all-time record-breaker – and beat him.
Rosberg and Schumacher will line up alongside one another at Mercedes – formerly double 2009 world champions Brawn GP – next season, and their career statistics could scarcely be any more contrasting. Schumacher has seven drivers' world championship crowns, 91 grand prix victories, 154 podium finishes and 1,369 points to his name from the most dominant era the sport has ever seen, whilst Rosberg has yet to break his duck heading into his fifth campaign in the top flight – but the ex-Williams star makes it clear that he does not intend upon playing a role of dutiful second fiddle to his illustrious team-mate.
“Of course I want to beat any team-mate,” the 24-year-old told German daily newspaper the Stuttgarter Nachrichten
. “That's direct confrontation, because the drivers have the same equipment. A little egotism is involved here. I am proud to be a Silver Arrows driver, and I want to be physically stronger than ever before.
“[Schumacher's return is] great news for our sport, and it is a great challenge to race side-by-side with the best driver ever. I am convinced that Michael has not lost his speed.”
Equally confident that his new team will provide the final missing link to transform him from a consistent and highly-regarded points contender into a regular grand prix-winner, Rosberg predicted a thrilling scrap ahead in 2010 between Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Red Bull Racing, with at least eight drivers ostensibly capable of duelling it out for glory in every race.
“We are building on that,” he explained of the Brackley-based outfit's outstanding 2009 success. “That's why I am certain that the car will be at least as strong as the last model. We will all work very hard to reach our aim of being right up at the front.
“[The main interest will be] how Schumacher fares against Rosberg in the Silver Arrow, and against [Sebastian] Vettel and [Lewis] Hamilton and [Fernando] Alonso. I believe we will see a very exciting season.”
In the wake of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix late last year – almost two months before Schumacher was confirmed at Mercedes for 2010 – Rosberg accused the Kerpen native of being the driver who had raised levels of danger in F1 to an unacceptable degree [see separate story – click here