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Massa upstages Schumacher in F1 return

Michael Schumacher poses with the new Mercedes car ahead of his return to F1 testing on Monday.
Michael Schumacher poses with the new Mercedes car ahead of his return to F1 testing on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Schumacher makes impressive return to F1 in first day of official testing for 2010
  • Seven-time world champion is third fastest in Spain, racing 40 laps for Mercedes
  • Ferrari's Felipe Massa, making his comeback after six months out, is quickest in Valencia
  • World champion Jenson Button and McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton sit out session
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(CNN) -- Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher made an impressive return to Formula One in the first day of official testing for 2010 in Spain on Monday -- but was upstaged by another driver making his comeback, Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Schumacher, who has ended a three-year retirement to drive for Ross Brawn's new Mercedes team, was third quickest behind Massa and BMW Sauber's new signing Pedro De La Rosa.

The 41-year-old German took over from Nico Rosberg with about an hour and a half of the Valencia session remaining, and ended up posting a time more than a second faster than his younger teammate.

"It was a perfect rollout for the new car today. I felt totally comfortable and really had a feeling that everything was very natural," Schumacher told his official Web site.

"It felt just like at the very beginning of my career in 1991 when on the first lap, I thought wow that was really fast, and then on the second lap, I was extremely excited. I feel just like a young boy again and really enjoyed myself.

"We did a good job today, making a few control checks, and the most important thing was that the car ran reliably. With Nico and I covering 79 laps today, it was a superb job by the team."

Rosberg, who drove for Williams last year before Mercedes took over world champions Brawn and signed the German, completed 39 laps and Schumacher was on the track for 40, according to Web site autosport.com.

"For me, to have him here is a great thing, fantastic," Rosberg told reporters about his alliance with Schumacher. "It has given me a little bit of extra motivation.

"My relationship with him is very good. I get on well with him. We respect each other and I think we will be great teammates. There will be a few things I'll be able to pick up from him as he is one of the best that has ever driven."

Massa was back behind the wheel of a Formula One car in a public session for the first time since his accident in Hungary in July, which left him needing life-saving skull surgery.

The Brazilian clocked an unofficial fastest time of one minute and 12.574 seconds as he completed 102 laps, autosport.com reported, with veteran Spaniard De La Rosa posting 1:12.784.

Schumacher's 1:12.947 put him well ahead of Rosberg, who was fourth best on 1:13.543.

McLaren test driver Gary Paffett was fifth fastest, but his team's official race entries for this year -- world champion Jenson Button and his predecessor Lewis Hamilton -- sat out the session.

Hamilton will drive on Tuesday, and Button is scheduled to take the wheel on Wednesday.

The other drivers to take part were Button's former Brawn teammate Rubens Barrichello in a Williams, Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi and Renault's new signing Robert Kubica.