Niki Lauda has predicted that Michael Schumacher will stand on the top step of the podium this season.

Schumacher has yet to win since coming out of retirement back in 2010, and to date his best results with Mercedes are four fourth places. Mercedes, however, seems to be on an upward curve at present and with Nico Rosberg having won in China las month, giving the squad its first win of the modern era, much is expected.

"Michael Schumacher will win this year," Lauda told German newspaper, Bild this week ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. "Mercedes is finally good enough to be able to attack the top teams."

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Schumacher meanwhile has made waves recently with his criticism of the tyres supplied by Pirelli [see separate story - HERE], Lauda though feels there is no way the German's presence in the sport is anything but positive.

"Schumacher cannot spoil F1," continued Lauda, who won the F1 title in 1975, 1977 and 1984. "Rosberg's success in Shanghai will spur him on rather than frustrate him. He will fight through it."

Lauda's comments are in stark contrast to those he made last year, when he urged the record-breaking F1 world champion to be 'honest with himself' and to seriously consider whether or not to persist with his comeback [see separate story - HERE].