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Nico Rosberg promised equality with Michael Schumacher

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher
Mercedes say Schumacher will be given no special treatment

Mercedes say they will give equal treatment to drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in 2010.

Schumacher had number one status in 11 years with Ferrari, where Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn was technical director.

But Brawn said: "I'd dispute this title of number one driver. We will give maximum support to both drivers."

Rosberg said: "Of course there is this little bit of doubt within me but I'm confident and comfortable we'll have the same car, chances, everything."

Schumacher, who has a record seven titles and 91 wins to his name, is returning to F1 at the age of 41 in 2010 after a three-year hiatus and has made it clear he expects to challenge for the title.

Rosberg, whose best result is a second place, signed for the Brawn team last summer before the takeover by Mercedes was confirmed - and long before there was any public talk of Schumacher's comeback.

It's there for both drivers to establish their positions, to beat each other, compete with each other, but in the correct fashion, a constructive way

Ross Brawn
Mercedes F1 team boss

It is widely expected within F1 that the relationship between Schumacher and Brawn will pick up where it left off at Ferrari in 2006.

And that impression was heightened when Schumacher recently asked to swap car numbers with Rosberg because he was superstitious about racing with an even number.

Rosberg was initially given number three after becoming the first driver to sign to race for Mercedes in 2010 but he will now be number four, with Schumacher number three.

Rosberg said he had sought reassurance about his status from Brawn and Norbert Haug, Mercedes' sports boss.

He said their promise of equality was "fantastic - part of the base philosophy of Mercedes, of the way Ross wants to do things".

Brawn pointed to his decision to allow his drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello to race each other for last year's title as evidence that he would do the same now the team had a new owner.

"Whoever is the fastest driver and winning the most races, you could argue is the number one driver," Brawn said.

"We will give maximum support to both drivers. Of course if a championship starts to develop where one has a greater chance of winning it, there may be different priorities.

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"But it will absolutely be evenly split, and I think we underlined last season when we gave Rubens (Barrichello) and Jenson even support.

"That will be the case this year, so it's there for both drivers to establish their positions, to beat each other, compete with each other, but in the correct fashion, a constructive way.

"So we don't have a number one driver, and we don't intend to have a number one driver.

"Of course, I have a long-standing relationship with Michael, and we can't ignore that.

"But beyond that there will be complete parity in terms of support and equipment. We've discussed it and been completely open."

Rosberg believes he can beat Schumacher if he has a level playing field.

"We're racing together, and we want to achieve success for this team," Rosberg said.

"Of course it's important for me to beat my team-mate, so it's going to be a big challenge this year, it's not going to be too easy.

"But I'm confident I'm going to be strong, so it shouldn't be a problem.

"I think I can make a big step up. This is the opportunity I've been waiting for."



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see also
Schumacher 'can win title at 41'
25 Jan 10 |  Formula 1


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