Nico Rosberg has predicted that he will be able to match his illustrious team-mate Michael Schumacher this year.

Rosberg of course has yet to win at the pinnacle of the sport, but he is upbeat about his prospects heading to Bahrain for the F1 2010 season opener. Indeed the ex-Williams man is determined to prove he isn't the number two.

"I think Michael respects me a bit more after these tests, which is important to me," Rosberg told German newspaper Bild. "Above all, I wanted to show the team [during testing over the winter] that the car runs equally well when I am at the wheel.

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"I will definitely be on a par with him and win races this year. And to do that I have to beat him now and then.

"But Michael is the best racing driver of all time, and certainly not without justification."

Asked how Schumacher will do on his return, Rosberg rejected suggestions the 41-year-old will struggle: "It won't be like that," he insisted. "But the tests have shown that there are at least four strong teams that are very close together and one of these eight drivers must be at best eighth."

Looking to Bahrain, Rosberg is clearing looking forward to making his debut with the Brackley-based outfit.

"The build-up to a new F1 season is always an exciting time, particularly when you have a new team to settle into and a brand new car to get used to. It has been a really nice process integrating into Mercedes GP. Everyone has been very welcoming and I feel very much at home here already," Rosberg continued.

"Our pre-season testing programme has gone pretty well in February. We did have some concerns that we were not able to find the right direction to extract the maximum potential from the car but by working hard, we were able to find our way and ended testing on a high.

"We also have a good upgrade coming for the Bahrain GP which should develop the car further and so I am quite optimistic that we will do well. Bahrain is a track which I really enjoy so it should be a good start to the season all in all," he summed-up.