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Hamilton keen to take on Schumacher

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Schumacher explains return
  • Lewis Hamilton welcomes return of Michael Schumacher to F1
  • Hamilton wants the chance to test himself against the German legend
  • Schumacher's new teammate Nico Rosberg relishes 'great challenge'
  • Reigning champion Jenson Button says Schumacher could be risking his reputation

(CNN) -- 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton is relishing the prospect of going head to head Michael Schumacher after the German's return to Formula One was confirmed on Wednesday.

Hamilton had his first drive in F1 in 2007, the year after Schumacher retired for the first time and was disappointed he did not get the chance to test himself against the seven-time champion.

"It's great to have Michael back in Formula One," Hamilton told the Press Association.

"He is a legend, a really nice guy, and I am happy for him he has again got an opportunity to do the best job in the world - race in Formula One.

"I used to watch Michael race when I was in the junior categories, and I always hoped I would be in Formula One while he was still around," he added.

Hamilton and reigning world champion Jenson Button will form a formidable driver line-up at McLaren next season but the British team's chief Martin Whitmarsh also welcomed the challenge that will be posed by Schumacher at Mercedes.

"I always hoped I would be in Formula One while he was still around.
--Lewis Hamilton on Schumacher's return

"I think I share the sentiment of every single Formula One fan across the world by saying Michael's return to the sport is fantastically exciting -- and a thrilling prospect for the 2010 season," said Whitmarsh.

"We now look forward to some terrific racing in 2010."

Schumacher's fellow driver at Mercedes, German Nico Rosberg, admitted he will need to be at his best to match his illustrious teammate.

"It's a great challenge for me to be up against one of the best drivers of all time," he told the team's official Web site.

"I'm sure we will form a very strong partnership as he will have lost none of his speed. It is also great news for our sport and the fans."

But Button, whose departure from the former Brawn GP team paved the way for Schumacher's return, previously cast doubt on the whether it was wise for the 40-year-old to risk his reputation in a comeback.

"Schumacher coming back to F1 is great news for the sport," Button was quoted in the English newspaper the News of the World on December 13.

"But I don't know if it will be great news for Michael Schumacher. He will be putting his reputation on the line coming back into the sport."

Button added that he would relish the chance to test himself against the legend.

"I'll race against anybody. I want to beat the best and he was one of the best," he added.

Schumacher will now go into the critical pre-season testing ahead of the first race of the new season in Bahrain on March 14.