Michael Schumacher has said that he feels 'like a child looking forward to Christmas' as he gears up for his return to the sport with Mercedes Grand Prix and the F1 2010 season opener in Bahrain next weekend.

Schumacher, who is statistically the most successful driver in the history of F1, almost came back last year, when Felipe Massa suffered his horrific crash in Hungary. However a neck injury meant he was unable to fill the void.

Now though, the German is going to race again at the pinnacle of the sport and the seven-time world champion insists that his batteries are completely recharged.

"Finally the season will start! I feel like a child looking forward to Christmas. The decision to make my comeback feels like a long time ago now and I can hardly wait for the season to get underway in Bahrain," he noted. "It's funny to think that I will be competing in F1 again when just a few months ago, I would have declined the opportunity categorically.

"But sometimes things change and the right circumstances come together. I feel fresher than I have for many years. I am perfectly prepared physically and most importantly, my energy is back completely.

"When I retired from racing in 2006, my batteries were simply empty. Now they are totally recharged and I am ready for the challenge. It is the competition at the highest level that only F1 offers which has provided the temptation for me."

Pressed on his prospects and that of Mercedes, Schumacher refused to make any lofty predictions, although he did add that the Brackley-based outfit - which won the titles last year of course as Brawn GP - will be up there with the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

"It is always difficult to predict the form in pre-season testing, this year more than ever, but the final test in Barcelona proved to us that we should be competitive," Schumacher added.

"We know that we will have more new parts in Bahrain which should bring extra performance to the car. It's important to be in the leading group from the start of the season and I am confident that we will be there."

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