The Race of Champions, which returns to Germany for only the second time since 1989, will provide Michael Schumacher with an opportunity to win the Nations’ Cup for the fourth time.
The seven-time world champion will, however, win a Grand Prix race before that, his former rival Mika Hakkinen believes.
Since returning to the sport with Mercedes’ after a three-year lay-off, Schumacher has failed to finish in a podium position.
His teammate Nico Rosberg, on the other hand, has been much more successful and currently stands second in the drivers’ standings with 50 points, ten points behind defending champion Jenson Button.
“I am pretty certain though that Schumacher will still win a race this season. I know what drives him, how hard he works when he has set himself a goal,” the Finn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“But it will be difficult for him. Formula One will not give him any time. It knows no mercy and allows you no excuses,” Hakkinen said.
Two-time world champion Hakkinen said he was impressed by Schumacher’s courage. “He is not thinking about his reputation for a single second. But he will be upset if he does not manage to race according to his own expectations. That is the situation at the moment,” he said.
Hakkinen said he believes the new technical aspects of the cars, new tyres, as well as his age, were reasons why Schumacher was not yet challenging for victories.
“This sport expects total concentration. This is difficult to achieve when you are 41. At that age different things are important in your life.” Rosberg himself is surprised that he is currently the leading Mercedes driver. “I am very glad that I am ahead of him, but I do not know how long that will last,” the 24-year-old was quoted by Italian media.
Rosberg defended Schumacher, who has just ten points after four season races. “I think people expected too much from him at first. At first I also thought that it was not a good thing that he was my teammate. But now I am positively surprised.”
Schumacher is already looking forward to the Race of Champions, which will be held in Dusseldorf. He will again partner Sebastian Vettel in the Nations Cup and is hoping to add a fourth consecutive victory.
“I am really looking forward to defending our title in front of our home fans,” Schumacher said, while Vettel added: “It is something special to be able to drive in front of your own home fans.”