Michael Schumacher's comeback should not be evaluated on the results of a single race, several of the German's opponents have urged, aware that there is probably more to come.

The seven-time world champion was out-gunned by junior team-mate Nico Rosberg at the season's opening round in Bahrain, his first race weekend since breaking a three-year retirement to reunite with Ross Brawn and Mercedes, but few inside the sport are taking that to be indicative of the German's true potential. Red Bull's Mark Webber, who many have tipped to be battling with Schumacher for race wins, if not the world title, this year, insists that the German will naturally take time to settle back into a sport that has seen major rule changes since he quit in 2006, and now has limited testing opportunities during which he could have played himself back in.

"It's one race," Webber insisted, "There's been a pretty limited testing programme for Michael to get into a new category. The cars have changed quite a lot since he last drove.

"You know you can never underestimate him because of what he's done in the past. Clearly, this is his second career. He's had his first career, which we know was exceptional, and he's coming back. Hats off to him, [it takes] big balls to come back and have another go. We will see over time how this decision turns out.

"Obviously, the team are looking to progress as well. I think they're aiming to be world champions this year because that's the world championship team from last year, and anything other than that is probably not what the new operation is after. The whole thing has got to go forward, and Michael is a good guy to have the energy and influence to make this happen. Rosberg is pretty tidy, we know that, and they both were competitive in Bahrain, in my opinion. They put the car on the limit and that's how it went. It will move around as the season goes on."

Rookie Vitaly Petrov agreed that Rosberg's performance should not be denigrated in the desire to evaluate Schumacher's achievements, but also warned that the senior German would only improve.

"Nico is not slow driver - he was maybe not in a strong team in the last few years, but he's very strong and has a good car now," the Russian pointed out, "Just wait, Michael will wake up very soon and he will come back and it will be interesting to look at."

Bruno Senna and Jarno Trulli shared similar views, insisting that Schumacher needed more time before being judged, especially after such a long period out of the cockpit. The Brazilian pointedly claimed that 'I don't think talent runs away from you', while Trulli - who has spent much of his lengthy career chasing Schumacher - noted that the German needed more time to get back into his relentless rhythm.

"Nevertheless, I don't think his team-mate is any slower than him, so he's got quite a tough task ahead of him, a long season," the Italian added, "He has another new career ahead of him, and he needs to develop. Give him some time and he will probably be back on the pace."