F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone believes Michael Schumacher would have been a title contender again this season and odds on to take his eighth title if he had been with Red Bull Racing and not Mercedes.

Schumacher elected to return this year, having 'retired' at the end of 2006, following a massively successful period with Ferrari. This season though, he hasn't been nearly as impressive and for the first time he has been unable to match his team-mate.

Indeed Schumacher has scored just 38 points going into this weekend's F1 2010 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, his best results two fourth places. In contrast, team-mate Nico Rosberg has three podiums in the bag and 94 points on the board.

Ecclestone though, still has faith the 41-year-old has what it takes and said as much in a recent interview with the official F1 website.

"If Michael were driving a Red Bull I would put my money on him," Ecclestone said. "It was super [for our sport when Michael announced he was coming back]. Very similar to Tiger Wood's comeback - even though Tiger had stopped playing for very different reasons. We had a tremendous media presence thanks to Michael.

"The most important factor though, was that Michael had enough self-confidence to do it and a team that believed in him. The people at Mercedes knew what he stands for and what he is able to achieve and they talked to him in a serious way so that he would listen. If they'd tried to sell him nonsense he surely wouldn't have listened to them. He and Lewis Hamilton are still the most prominent drivers in Formula One. Even today.

"Michael is a hundred percent fit and talented. He is racing because he wants to win - and at the moment this is not possible [because of the car], so he has to focus on getting the car right.

"I have to add something else [too]. When people say that Nico Rosberg is faster than Michael I tell them Nico still has to prove himself. Not so Michael. For Nico fourth places are still important - not for Michael. Only winning is what counts for him. Whether he finishes fourth or 14th doesn't really matter for him."

Schumacher meanwhile conceded Rosberg is the faster Mercedes driver at the moment, not that he isn't giving 100 per cent and pushing to the absolute maximum.

"Every driver has his own driving style and you have to work with the team so that you feel comfortable with the package. I achieved that with Ferrari. But that doesn't happen overnight," Schumacher explained.

"It is no secret that at the moment our car has characteristics that don't suit me and with how the car behaves at the moment I am not driving at Nico's level - at least not in qualifying. In the race it's very equal. I know precisely how I can change that fact - and I am working on it.

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I believe in being able to reach my goal - to win the title [again]. [But] I have to accept that it will take time. Of course we all in the team believed that we would be more competitive this season. Unfortunately though, that's not the case."

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