Lewis Hamilton has tipped Nico Rosberg to retain his edge over Michael Schumacher at Mercedes.
Rosberg, a former karting teammate of 2008 world champion Hamilton and now a F1 rival, has signed on for the next few years with the German team, where in 2010 and 2011 he was the standout performer alongside the great Schumacher.
"I know Nico very well," Briton Hamilton is quoted by the Cologne newspaper Express, "and I knew he would do everything to beat Michael. And he did it.
"I think he's going to keep that gap now. Nico is hungry, there is no doubt about that. He has not won the championship or even any races but he is still young.
"When Michael was in the same phase in his career, maybe he had the same hunger and he won seven world championships and 91 races.
"I don't think it's possible for him to be as hungry as he was before," added Hamilton.
But while there is no doubt Schumacher has upped his game in the second half of 2011, some commentators still believe he should return to retirement at the age of 42 and open his cockpit for a new charger.
Gerhard Berger, an early contemporary of Schumacher's ultra-successful initial career, does not agree.
"The market regulates itself and if he was not good enough still, he would not still be there."