Nico Rosberg welcomes Michael Schumacher as his Mercedes GP teammate but will show no respect for the seven-time world champion on the Formula One racing tracks.

“Of course, I want to beat any teammate, that’s the direct confrontation, the driver has the same equipment. A little egotism is involved here,” Rosberg told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily.

Rosberg, 24, named Schumacher’s sensational return to racing “great news for our sport” and “a great challenge to race side by side with the best driver ever.

“I am convinced that Michael has not lost his speed,” Rosberg said.

Rosberg said he was working hard on his fitness ahead of the first test drives in February because “I want to be as physically strong as never before.”

Rosberg said he was delighted to be part of the new team which comes from Mercedes’ acquisition of the Brawn GP team, which won the drivers (Jenson Button) and constructors world title last year.

“I am proud to be a silver arrow driver,” he said.

Rosberg said that Mercedes should play a similarly strong role as Brawn did in 2009, with Red Bull expected to be the biggest rivals again.

“We are building on that, that’s why I am certain that the car will be at least as strong as the last model. We will all work very hard to reach our aim of being right up front,” he said.

Mercedes is one of the few carmakers who remain fully dedicated to the sport in grim economic times.

But Rosberg is not concerned that the withdrawal of BMW, Toyota and others will affect the sport. He said racing fans are more interested in the duels between drivers, with Schumacher’s return adding plenty of spice.

Rosberg said the key interest will be “how Schumacher fares against Rosberg in the silver arrow, and against (Sebastian) Vettel (Red Bull) and (Lewis) Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) and (Fernando) Alonso (Ferrari). “I believe we will see a very exciting season,” Rosberg said.

RELATED NEWS

Schumacher returns to F1 with Mercedes December 23, 2009

More In: Motorsport | Sport