The return of Michael Schumacher to F1 competition with Mercedes Grand Prix in 2010 will only serve to spur McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on to his second drivers' title in the top flight, reckons BBC pundit and former team owner Eddie Jordan.
Hamilton clinched his first F1 crown in only his second season at the highest level in 2008, but was unable to successfully defend his world championship glory last year when McLaren's MP4-24 proved to be chronically off the pace over the opening half of the season, causing the eleven-time grand prix-winner to cede too many points to remain in mathematical contention.
However, over the second half of proceedings, progress was such that Hamilton out-scored every single one of his adversaries and snared pole position on no fewer than four occasions – and if McLaren has maintained that level of development pace over the winter to be able to hit the ground running in 2010, Jordan reckons there could just be no stopping the team's favourite son.
The Irishman, however, had fewer words of comfort for new team-mate and reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button, who he predicts will be in for something of a culture shock after departing Brawn GP (now Mercedes Grand Prix) for the Woking-based outfit.
“I can't get my head away from Lewis Hamilton,” Jordan is quoted as having said by British newspapers the Daily Telegraph
and Daily Express
. “He's sharp, he's got talent and the return to the sport of Michael Schumacher will only add to his aggression to succeed – and to Sebastian Vettel's. It's perfect for them.
“Michael is an adrenaline junkie for F1. Some can leave the sport, [but] Michael cannot and that is why he is back. It is obviously not for the money, so it has to be because he thinks he can beat the best – but that could backfire on him.
“Lewis is hugely talented and has never raced Michael. Back comes this guy with the biggest reputation in F1. Hamilton will love it if he has the equipment, and I think McLaren will be able to give him that this year. Lewis is a class act. My money wouldn't be anywhere but on Hamilton.
“We saw how bad McLaren were in the first half of last season. I went on record saying it was the worst car ever, and they still came back. They had a terrible start, but were very strong at the end. I think the momentum is with McLaren; I would be more concerned at Mercedes, Brawn as they were – they started very strongly but lost the momentum.
“Jenson is going to have to learn to accept a different life – at Brawn he was part of the furniture. This is a real eye-opener for him and it will be the measure of the man, but he wouldn't have taken this decision if he wasn't aware of what his requirement would be.