Ross Brawn believes Michael Schumacher will be this year's formula one world champion, but says the German won't be in a position to win from the first race.
"If I had to bet on any of them then it is clear that Michael will become world champion," Brawn told German newspaper Bild, in a statement that re-affirms Brawn's unwavering faith in Schumacher's ability.
Brawn believes the 41-year old, seven-time world champion will defy his critics and that his energy for F1 has returned.
"Michael is now more relaxed. When he retired in 2006, F1 was a burden for him. Now I can sense his old enthusiasm."
Brawn spent 10 years working with Schumacher at Ferrari, and has since relayed stories of Michael's talent, including how he would call on the radio asking for his flight home to be brought forward while leading a race.
But critics believe Schumacher is making a mistake by returning, as the cars and tracks have changed enormously since he retired from F1 in 2006.
"It has always been his strength anyway," counters Brawn "to learn and adapt amazingly quickly."