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GP Week : Issue 79
I don't know how long it will last". That may be answered by how Rosberg finds the long wheelbase car next weekend. Perhaps Nico has gained more from Schumacher's return that anybody. "He stimulates everybody, including Nico. To work together with him and to profit from his experience can only be positive," says Norbert Haug. Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to answer the question of why Rosberg is so much faster than Schumacher. "Nico is very talented and Michael was on holiday for three years. Ask me the same question after another two races. At the moment I would say, don't underestimate Michael. Give him time to adapt to the new car and the new tyres. At the moment he's something of a newbie who has to get accustomed to the trade again. Michael would have never returned had he not been convinced that he can do the job. He is not a tourist in the paddock - he's here to win. And he will win again." Michael has a three year contract with Mercedes but there are already question marks as to whether he'll see that out. Haug reckons the team will be on top next year thanks to the headcount restrictions they're already adhering to and which will come online at McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing over the winter. Mercedes' rivals will have to shed up to half their workforce and that will be painful, emotionally and competitively. It could be that Michael is already looking to 2011, when McLaren is missing Mercedes' money and all the big teams are downsizing. Buying into Brawn, which had already gone through that process, was fundamental to Mercedes' strategy. "At the moment we don't have the best performing car on the grid," concedes Haug. "We have known that fact since the first day of testing, but we are in good shape for the future. Other teams are still working with double the headcount that we do. This should not sound like an excuse but rather an explanation. We will definitely be fighting for victories soon." Such was the hype surrounding Schumacher's return, expectations were impossibly high and now the knives are out. It seems those of us on the sidelines prize Schumacher's legacy more greatly that the man himself. "All he's going to do is damage what his achievements have been," Sir Stirling Moss told GP Week over the phone last week. "People are going to say he's passed it now, which he probably has. I can't understand why he's come back." Boredom maybe. Missing the rush. And because no other driver would be invited back after three whole years, in his forties, by a top team except Michael Schumacher. He looks as fit as ever, but have his advancing years dulled his reactions and relaxed his hunger to beat everyone else? "Maybe he has lost his feeling for driving during the three years of his retirement," says Jos Verstappen who partnered Michael at Benetton in 1994. "What we are now seeing is that Schumacher is an ordinary man of flesh and blood and that even he cannot "It's tempting to draw a comparison between Michael Schumacher and Sir Paul McCartney ... 24