Mike Stevens | Jul 31, 2009

REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION Lewis Hamilton has revealed his delight at having the opportunity to race against the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time, Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton has long expressed his regret at missing the opportunity to race with the German after making his debut in the first event of the post-Schumacher era.

But with the 40-year-old set to return as a replacement for the injured Felipe Massa, Hamilton said it will be “an honour and a privilege” to go wheel-to-wheel with Schumacher at Valencia.

"He is one of the sport's greatest competitors, a legend - it'd be great to compete against him. The whole world will be watching his return to the cockpit in Valencia,” he said.

“It will not only be fascinating to see how he readies himself for his grand prix comeback, but also an honour and a privilege to race against him for the very first time. I wish him well.”

Championship leader Jenson Button joined the chorus of support for Schumacher’s return and pleased to see the 91-time Grand Prix winner back on the race track.

However, Button admitted Schumacher could be risking his reputation in the opinions of some critics if he isn’t an immediate success.

“It will be good to have Michael back out there racing again. There are very good people out there at the moment, but to have Michael there again will be very special, although I'm sure we all wish Felipe was there also,” he said.

“It's an interesting one, though, because if he wins people will say they expected him to, and if he doesn't, they will say he should not have come back.

“So it's a tough position for him to be in, although I'm happy he has taken up the challenge. It's very brave of him.”

Championship leader Jenson Button.
Championship leader Jenson Button.

Schumacher’s return is expected to place further pressure on Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who is expected to be replaced by Fernando Alonso next season.

And while some believe the presence of Schumacher will spur Raikkonen into action, the Finn is adamant it won’t affect his displays on the track.

“If it really happens I will be happy to partner him, even though it may not have much effect on my own performance,” he said.

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