26 Dec 2009

Schumacher's not worried he'll let down fans

12:01 pm on 26 December 2009

The seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher isn't worried he'll let down his fans next year when he returns to Formula One for the first time in more than three years.

He'll be driving for Mercedes GP with another German, 24-year-old Nico Rosberg, in the team that won the drivers' and constructors' titles in 2009 in its former guise as Brawn GP.

Schumacher says he's just as driven and fearless as he always was and doesn't think he's under pressure from high expectations in Germany, where 70 per cent of respondents in one poll have backed him to win an eighth driver's championship.

He says that's only to be expected and it's what his team's aiming to do.

When he starts the season in Melbourne he'll be 41, the same age as Nigel Mansell when he won the 1994 Australian Grand Prix after stepping in as a substitute for Williams following the death of Ayrton Senna.

Schumacher's comeback is F1's highest profile since Niki Lauda came out of a two-year retirement in 1982 to race for McLaren and went on to win a third world title in 1984 in his mid-30s.