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Rosberg expecting 'fierce competition' with Schumacher

ESPNF1 Staff
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Nico Rosberg: "Of course I hope that I will wind up on top" © Sutton Images
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Nico Rosberg has predicted a season of fierce competition with Michael Schumacher as the pair enter their second year as Mercedes team-mates.

Rosberg beat Schumacher by 70 points in 2010, but the seven-time world champion is expected to be stronger this year with Pirelli tyres and a chassis more to his liking. Rosberg joked that he would like Schumacher to have another difficult year, but in reality he is expecting a much tougher competitor.

"From my point of view he can repeat his performance of last year," he said in an interview with the official Formula One website. "But I am sure that will not be the case. I expect that there will be a fierce competition between the two of us, but of course I hope that I will wind up on top."

He added that he felt he had not damaged Schumacher's reputation by outperforming him last season.

"I don't think that I bruised the Schumacher myth. He is a seven-time world champion and that will always remain in the history books. But sure it felt good to beat him, as he is not viewed as one of the best F1 drivers ever for nothing!"

At testing last week Schumacher set competitive times on Friday and Saturday, while Rosberg's running was limited by reliability issues at both Valencia and Jerez. Nevertheless, the younger German is confident the car will come good.

"Yes, we weren't too fast in Valencia but with Michael's two days of running in Jerez we are obviously heading in the right direction," he said. "Despite what people believe we weren't running in qualifying spec when he did his times - we still had a buffer. My running obviously was not so blessed. I only ran for 45 laps on the last day of the Jerez test because of a precautionary engine change. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do as many laps as I would have liked, but overall I see a development for the better and to get better every single lap counts."

He said the new Mercedes would be significantly improved for the first race of the season, but stopped short of naming specifics.

"One thing that should be made very clear is that this car that we've been running so far is not our Bahrain car. This car is here to improve reliability and do the maximum mileage possible. A big step will be introduced later in the test season."

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn confirmed on Sunday night that there were still reliability issues to be solved.

"The four days in Jerez have proved to be extremely useful for the team, although the test has not been without its challenges," he said. "We had good reliability for the middle two days which allowed us to accumulate a lot of mileage, however there are issues to be resolved so that we can maximise our track time for the remaining two tests. Both Michael and Nico continue to feel comfortable in the car and our priorities remain on reliability, developing our understanding of the tyres and the KERS, whilst simultaneously pushing on with the developments still to come."

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