Nico Rosberg will benefit from the presence of the legendary Michael Schumacher alongside him at Mercedes Grand Prix in F1 2010 and is the Stuttgart manufacturer's long-term future, Ross Brawn has asserted - revealing that the young German had been on the team's radar for years.

Many have opined that in recruiting a driver of the calibre of record-breaking seven-time F1 World Champion Schumacher for the forthcoming campaign, Mercedes was effectively relegating compatriot Rosberg to a subservient 'number two' role, there merely to back up his illustrious team-mate's latest title challenge rather than launch a bid for glory of his own as he had no doubt been anticipating when he signed up back in November

However, Brawn has always maintained that there will be no driver hierarchy in 2010, and that Rosberg will be free to fight Schumacher until the theoretical point arrives where one of them is mathematically no longer in contention for the laurels. Then, and only then, insists the Brackley-based outfit's team principal, will one of the pair be required to support the other.

In the meantime, Brawn believes Rosberg - who has yet to claim his maiden grand prix victory - can learn and improve significantly from the most successful driver the sport has ever known, and once the 24-year-old's talent has 'matured', the Englishman suggests, he should have the ability to go on to become one of the all-time greats himself.

"We signed Nico first and have tried to sign Nico for several years," he told the official F1 website. "We had strong discussions with him two years ago. Nico has the speed and the talent, but has not won a race yet - although he came very close - so he needs to cross that hurdle first. We see him as a great talent, but it needs finishing and maturing.

"I think it is a wonderful partnership between him and Michael, and there is no reason why Nico should not compete as well. They work well together, and I see Michael helping Nico develop his career. They must both try their hardest to beat each other, but if it is done with the right spirit, with the right approach, then both will gain enormously.

"I view it as a very exciting partnership, and I am glad Nico is part of it. Michael has come out of retirement, but we have to accept that there will come a day when he has to stop forever - and then we will have Nico."

The internecine tussle at Mercedes does indeed look set to be an intriguing affair, with Schumacher endeavouring to prove that his advancing years and race-rustiness following three seasons out of the cockpit have done nothing to dim his scintillating raw pace, combative approach and competitive spirit - and Rosberg hoping to hold his own against arguably the greatest driver in F1 history. Together, Brawn hopes, the Teutonic duo will drive the reigning double world champions on to even greater heights.

"I have been very lucky in my career, because each time I thought I had reached the pinnacle I have found something else to do," the 55-year-old acknowledged. "It would undoubtedly be a wonderful achievement to take Mercedes-Benz back into the victory circle again and emulate the success they've had in their history.

"I keep thinking that I've reached the pinnacle of my career and that it is downhill from now on, and yet these things keep coming back up. I consider myself very fortunate, and I'm looking forward to this new challenge."

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