Fernando Alonso will be in a class of his own as a driver in Formula One next year, Red Bull driver Mark Webber says.
Alonso won two titles with Schumacher still on the track
And he said the double world champion could transform McLaren into serious contenders for the title in 2007.
"If Alonso can get a good car from McLaren I don't think anyone will touch him," Webber said.
"I think he will give them that lift. McLaren have been looking for a bit of direction for a while and I think Fernando can give it to them."
606 DEBATE: Can Alonso transform McLaren in title contenders?
In a rare example of an active driver admitting the superior talent of a rival, Webber said Alonso's ability had been proved by winning his two titles before Michael Schumacher retired.
"He's double world champion when Michael was still around, which is a great feather in his cap and something which I know he's particularly rapt about.
"He's the class in the field at the moment, there's no-one who can compete with him consistently."
Kimi Raikkonen is phenomenally quick but whether he can take it to Fernando during the course of the season I don't know
Schumacher has been replaced at Ferrari by ex-McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen, who is the early favourite to win the world title in 2007.
But Webber, who was a test driver at Renault alongside Alonso in 2001, said he doubted whether the Finn was a match for the Spaniard over a championship season.
"Kimi is phenomenally quick, we know that," he said. "Whether he can take it to Fernando during the course of the season [I don't know]. It's going to be a good fight between those two."
And Webber said Renault would still be a major force, despite Alonso being replaced by Finnish debutant Heikki Kovalainen, who will partner veteran Giancarlo Fisichella.
"Renault will be strong, Kovalainen will be one of the finds of the season I think and Fisi could come out of his shell because he hasn't got Fernando there," he said.