Michael Schumacher has admitted he did not expect his former team Mercedes to make such a leap forward in 2013.
After his F1 comeback with Mercedes between 2010 and 2012, Schumacher returned to retirement this year and was replaced by Lewis Hamilton.
In the great German's wake, Hamilton won from pole last time out in Hungary, while Schumacher's former teammate Nico Rosberg has won twice in 2013 so far.
"Given where we finished last season," seven-time world champion Schumacher told Eurosport, "it's a surprise where they are now.
"I'm happy for them, but I could not have seen that coming."
If that sounded like regret after three years of poor results, 44-year-old Schumacher insisted he is "honestly" happy to have returned to retirement.
"You can't forget that this sport is not just 20 races," said the former Ferrari driver, whose seven titles and 91 wins are all-time F1 records.
"In those three years, so much energy is consumed that I would not have been able to continue at the level at which I want to measure myself," said Schumacher.
If watching merely on television has been enjoyable for the famous German this year, it is probably because Rosberg's top form has made people reassess Schumacher's Mercedes career.
"People probably understand a little better how good Rosberg is," he said.
Even so, he insists he doesn't regret not being at the wheel of the winning W04.
"It would not have been enough for me to win a few races," said Schumacher. "The goal is to fight for the world championship - that was my target."
Lotus ready to wait for Raikkonen's call - Boullier
Eric Boullier has admitted Lotus is waiting for Kimi Raikkonen to make his decision about 2014.
Earlier, it was reported Lotus is putting pressure on the Finn to come to a quick decision about whether to stay beyond this season, or switch to another team like Red Bull.
The reports had suggested boss Boullier wanted him to decide by the start of August.
But the Frenchman has told Russia's Championat: "That's not exactly what I said. I said that the decision may come by August, but that it was not my decision."
If Lotus does lose Raikkonen, it would actually be good news for his current teammate Romain Grosjean, whose form is notoriously up and down.
Boullier said: "It's true that a completely new driver lineup is not good. But the best option is to keep Kimi and Romain.
"Generally, it is always important to keep at least one driver - regardless of whether the regulations are changing so much or not.
"At least one," he insisted.
Boullier also commented on the fate of Lotus' reserve driver, the reigning GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi.
He said: "If our team has no place for him, I think he has shown a good level to have a chance with another team.
"He has demonstrated his potential, he is fast and he deserves a chance in formula one."
Raikkonen reports are media 'fantasy' - Ferrari
Ferrari has dismissed as "fantasy" reports a lucrative 2014 offer has been made to former team driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Those reports had followed suggestions the Maranello based team might lose its current number 1 driver, Spaniard Fernando Alonso, to Red Bull.
But Ferrari's communications boss Renato Bisignani told Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo the rumours are "the typical fantasy in this period of rumours".
"There is not the slightest foundation," he insisted. "We are united in this moment of loss of competitiveness and confident in the return to better ways."
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, however, reports that Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson was spotted entering Ferrari's motor home in Hungary.
Bisignani added: "For the German journalists who called us about the (Raikkonen) news, we officially deny it."
A Ferrari spokesman was quoted elsewhere as insisting rumours about Ferrari quite often turn out to be completely untrue.
"For all those with short memories," he is quoted by DPA news agency, "only a year ago everyone came up with a list of drivers who would replace Felipe (Massa)."
Meanwhile, Bisignani played down any suggestion its running at Magny Cours this week might be compared to Mercedes' highly-controversial 'test-gate' test.
"We have been testing for two days with our 2011 car and the Pirelli demonstration tyres," he confirmed.
"The FIA was informed in advance of all the details, and (Ferrari) meets the requirements to be able to do it."
He added that the main goal of the test was to collect "data for several new programmes of the simulator".
Ferrari to decide on 2015 Le Mans prototype
Ferrari will decide soon whether it will push ahead with a Le Mans project.
A month ago, boss Stefano Domenicali did not deny speculation the Maranello based team might design a prototype for the fabled sports car scene.
"The new turbo engine for introduction in formula one next year would allow some interesting projects," he had said.
"At the moment I cannot say more," Domenicali told Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims Ferrari will make its decision about whether to push ahead with a LMP1 design for the 2015 Le Mans race later this year.
Correspondent Michael Schmidt said the Italian marque is "seriously considering" the option, despite not winning Le Mans since 1965.