Ross Brawn has tipped Michael Schumacher to become this year's world champion, but says the German won't be in a position to win from the first race.
Although Schumacher, 41, will be the oldest driver in the field and has not raced in F1 since the end of 2006, Brawn thinks that the seven-time champion will confound his critics.
"If I had to bet on any of them then it is clear that Michael will become world champion," Brawn told German newspaper Bild.
"Michael is now more relaxed. When he retired in 2006, F1 was a burden for him. Now I can sense his old enthusiasm."
Brawn does think, however, that it may take time for Schumacher to get fully up to speed.
"I do not think he will come out and win the first grand prix. He will need a few races to familiarise himself with the other cars and the many new drivers. Then I hope to see the old Schumacher," said Brawn.
"This has always been his strength anyway: to learn and adapt amazingly quickly."