Mike Stevens | Jan 18, 2010

MERCEDES-BENZ BOSS DIETER Zetsche has insisted the company will allow F1 team principal Ross Brawn to determine whether Michael Schumacher is awarded number one driver status this season.

Former Williams driver Nico Rosberg was expected to assume lead status for the upcoming campaign following the departure of World Champion Jenson Button, as the German seeks to finally claim a breakthrough grand prix victory.

But the arrival of Schumacher has clouded Rosberg’s role in the team, with most pundits expecting Mercedes-Benz to intervene and hand the seven-time World Champion team leadership.

However, Zetsche told La Gazzetta dello Sport the company will not attempt to influence the Brawn’s decision, stating it is a team matter.

“We have a team manager for this. Ross Brawn is one of the best. If he wasn't he wouldn't have won both titles last year, despite his team being in their debut. He will decide and it will be the best for the drivers and the constructor,” he said.

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Schumacher’s return after three years on the outer has sparked concerns the German may lack the cutting edge or fitness to compete against F1’s new generation.

But Zetsche dismissed those suggestions, saying he expects Schumacher to be capable of contending for race victories in 2010 despite his age.

We are convinced that Michael will do well and that he'll win again," he said. "Maybe not immediately, let's give him some time, but an ace never disappoints. I've been impressed by his enthusiasm. Rather than a return, it seems to me like a new debut.”

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