World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he is excited about being able to race against Michael Schumacher when the German returns to the cockpit for the European Grand Prix.
The seven-time champion will replace Felipe Massa in the Valencia race next month as the Brazilian continues to recover following his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix. It will be the first time Schumacher has raced in Formula 1 since he retired in 2006, and the first time he has experinced 2009 machinery. He is also yet to drive at the Valencia street circuit.
Although Hamilton said he is still thinking of Massa, the McLaren driver admitted he can't wait to share the track with Schumacher.
"I am excited by the possibility of Michael Schumacher's return to Formula 1 assuming it happens, but my thoughts are still with Felipe and his family following his terrible accident in Hungary," said Hamilton. "Michael is one of the sport's greatest competitors and a legend in his own right and it would be great to compete against him.
"The whole world will be watching his return to the cockpit in Valencia and it will not only be fascinating to see how he readies himself for his grand prix comeback but also an honor and a privilege to race against him for the very first time. I wish him well."
Championship leader Jenson Button also welcomed Schumacher's return, and the Briton reckons the former champion is likely to be competitive.
"It's a tough position for him to be in, but I'm happy he's taken up the challenge and it's very brave of him," Button told the BBC.
"He's still young – 40 is not old and he'll still be competitive."