Energised Schumacher itching to make return
Michael Schumacher feels "like a child looking forward to Christmas" such is his enthusiasm for his return to Formula One.
The new season is just a week away, with next Friday marking the opening two practise sessions for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
That is when the battle will begin in earnest, with the phoney war of the last few weeks in pre-season testing behind the teams.
For Schumacher, who confirmed just prior to Christmas he was ending three years in retirement and making a comeback at the age of 41, that is also when his reputation will be back on the line.
"Finally the season will start," exclaimed the seven-times world champion. "The decision to make my comeback feels like a long time ago now and I can hardly wait for the season to get under way.
"It's funny to think I will be competing in Formula One again when just a few months ago, I would have categorically declined the opportunity. But sometimes things change. Now I feel fresher than I have for many years."
Despite a strong pre-season from his new Mercedes team, morphed from last year's world champions Brawn GP, Schumacher is unable to call who has the advantage.
McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Mercedes all appear to be at a similar level, with less than three 10ths of a second separating the quartet on the final day of testing in Barcelona on Sunday.
"It is always difficult to predict the form in pre-season testing, this year more than ever," remarked Schumacher. "But the final test in Barcelona proved to us that we should be competitive."