“Then there's Mercedes – have they pulled something out-of-the-bag, or was 2009 (as Brawn GP) just a one-shot wonder? With his famous mental capacity, can Michael Schumacher come back and balance fading tyres, KERS, moveable rear wings and all the other variables that are going to be a factor this year?
“I think he can certainly win races again. I was kind of surprised that he didn't get a podium last year – I thought the car would allow him to do that. I think the championship is probably beyond his reach, but he has to think that [he can win it], because otherwise, why are you in F1? You need to motivate yourself.
“It really depends on the car. If he can manage everything that's going on in that car and have spare mental capacity to drive it whilst juggling all these buttons – and actually, I know Mercedes have got an intriguing little idea to make using the moveable rear wing easier for the drivers that doesn't involve a button on the steering wheel – then I think he's capable of winning a race and certainly scoring podiums.
“I hope he does, because next year is definitely going to be the last for him – this year might be the last for him if Mercedes want to get [Nico] Hülkenberg in or somebody else – so I hope he can go out with a race win or some podiums, and I think if he did that, then he'd retire a happy man.”
The F1 2011 World Championship campaign will rev into life in the desert kingdom of Bahrain on 13 March. The BBC
will broadcast all of the action both on and off-track season-long via comprehensive coverage across TV, HD, radio, online, red button and mobile.