Some observers had not given him so much as a prayer of taking on and beating the most successful driver in F1 history at Mercedes Grand Prix this year - and surely even he must have had his doubts - but Nico Rosberg's form against Michael Schumacher thus far in 2010 has earned the young German high praise indeed from two of the sport's most highly-respected figures.

Rosberg currently sits a superb second in the drivers' standings returning to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona this coming weekend, off the back of a supremely consistent run that has seen the 24-year-old twice finish on the podium, take the chequered flag no lower than fifth and achieve his maiden front row grid position - and, more to the point, roundly and routinely outperform elder compatriot Schumacher, one of only two drivers in the field now not to have managed to out-qualify his team-mate over the opening four races.

Rosberg's 50 points dwarf the measly ten notched up by seven-time world champion 'Schumi', and Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has stated his conviction that the son of 1982 title-winner Keke Rosberg will soon be a winner himself at the highest level [see separate story - click here]. Those sentiments seem to be shared by the inaugural GP2 Series Champion's former team boss Sir Frank Williams, and racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart.

"Nico has raised his game," opined three-time F1 World Champion Stewart, a man who knows Rosberg well from his time spent at Williams as a global ambassador for sponsor RBS. "The boy has extraordinary skills. I think Michael has been taken aback by that - it must be affecting him."

"Nico is a very self-confident young man with a reasonable amount of justification for being so," agreed Williams, speaking to the Daily Mail. "He won't be over-awed in Michael's presence."

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