Things will only get harder for Michael Schumacher as the season progresses, reckons his former team boss Flavio Briatore.
Schumacher, returning to F1 after an absence of three years, has so far been outperformed by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Although the seven-time champion is hoping to make progress as the season moves on, Briatore told Autosprint that he thinks Schumacher's life will be more difficult.
"On the contrary, I think it will be harder and harder for him," said Briatore when asked if he expected Schumacher to improve during the season. "I don't know how he can recover. I think the competition is fierce. He made the decision to return without thinking that, in four years, the cars and the tires have changed massively."
He added: "I've always said that it would be difficult for him to stay ahead of Rosberg. You can't come back in such a competitive sport after four or five years. Prost did, but only one season had gone by.
"Today, instead, he's found some tough customers, because in F1 there have never been drivers as good as this year. There's Hamilton, Fernando, Vettel, Rosberg..."
Briatore also said he has not changed his opinion about Jenson Button, despite the Briton leading the championship after four races. The Italian reckons the World Champion is still not among the top five drivers.
"We'll see how it ends up between Button and Hamilton at the end of the season. Jenson has done well, he's won two races and we know why: he was able to manage things and had luck on his side.
"I don't speak badly of him, I just say that he is not among the five quickest drivers in F1."