Sebastian Vettel thinks the novelty of Michael Schumacher's return will wear off by the time the season starts, and that his presence on the grid will soon feel routine again.
Red Bull driver Vettel, who has been dubbed Schumacher's successor in their German homeland, welcomed his compatriot's comeback and said he understood why it had created such a buzz.
"His return is good for F1," Vettel told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Now this is obviously the main point of conversation, and the entire world is talking about it. But I think that once the engines start again and the season begins, there will certainly be more important things to focus on."
Vettel reckons Schumacher's dedication to fitness will negate any potential disadvantage from his age. The seven-time champion will be 41 by the time the 2010 season starts.
"From this point of view it certainly won't be easy for him," Vettel said of Schumacher's age. "But if you look at him, he really is still in great shape. He's always been active. Naturally a lot will depend on the car's performance. Let's wait at least until the Bahrain GP to understand what will happen."
He is intrigued to see how Schumacher compares to his 24-year-old Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. "It will be very interesting, starting from the big age difference between Michael and Nico," said Vettel. "Schumi brings a lot of experience, which the team will be able to take advantage of hugely."
Although the pair are friends, Vettel insisted he had no inkling that Schumacher was planning to return to F1. "No one seriously believed that," he said. "A few weeks ago we were together in Kerpen to race karts, and I teased him a bit, but he really didn't want to say anything. Last summer, when his return was ruled out because of his neck problems, it looked all over."