Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said that he expects his team drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg to be involved in a hard, but fair fight.

Brawn, who sold his Brawn GP team to Mercedes at the end of last year, told DPA that he wanted the drivers to give it their all on the track. “But only under the condition that they do not crash into one another.

“I expect Michael to live up to our expectations and perhaps even achieve more than we expect,” said Brawn, who added that he believed Rosberg, who is 16 years younger than Schumacher, to be the future of the team.

Schumacher, who will drive his first race in Bahrain next week after coming out of retirement, said that he feels “like a child ahead of Christmas.” “What we have to do is give Michael a car that suits his unquestionable talent,” Brawn said.

Mercedes has vowed to provide the drivers with a competitive car, which will be made even faster with an “upgrade package” that is to be ready in time for the first race.

“Of course we are all very eager to win and with our own Mercedes team we want to be amongst the front runners. “We might not achieve that in the very first race, but we will manage to get to the front,” Mercedes motorsport head Norbert Haug said.

Haug believes that there are more than half a dozen drivers who can challenge for the title, with Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes the strongest teams.

“Not necessarily the driver who wins the first race will be the one who wins the championship,” Haug said, adding that it could be the most exciting season ever ahead.

Every day Schumacher works on his fitness for between four and six hours.

“He managed to regain all his strength during the break and seems incredibly fast and looks younger than his 41 years,” Brawn said.

Brawn, who is known as a tactical genius and technical guru, has played an integral part in Schumacher’s success, being part of the 1994 and 1995 Benneton team with, which the German won his first two championships and then from 2000 to 2004, when Schumacher won with Ferrari.

Now the Brawn/Schumacher duo is looking forward to starting the eighth world championship wonder in the desert in Bahrain.

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