It may have been slightly tongue-in-cheek, but only very slightly. After the first day of testing in preparation for the new F1 season, Rubens Barrichello offered a warning that Nico Rosberg should get out of the Mercedes team as quickly as possible to avoid being thrashed by Michael Schumacher.

It's early days for reaching such a dramatic conclusion, I would have thought, but at least Rubens knows about that of which he speaks. Having spent six seasons from 2000 as Michael’s wing man in the Ross Brawn-run Ferrari squad, Rubens knows only too well just what a stifling environment it can be paired with statistically the most successful driver of all time.

Valencia testing - 50 day one pictures

Asked at the end of Monday’s test at Valencia if he had any advice for Nico, he replied  "Yeah. Get out of there! That is the only thing I can tell him. He needs to drive fast and don't crash: Ross will always tell you that before the race."

Although Barrichello acknowledged that his commens were somewhat extreme, he does think that the speed that Schumacher showed on his return to F1 action at Valencia should serve as a warning to Rosberg.

"He [Nico] is a great talent and I wish him all the best, and maybe tomorrow you will see the newspapers saying, 'Rubens tells Nico to get out of there', but I am not being bad about it," he said.

"Knowing what I know, and seeing how fast Michael went today, it is going to be a tough job. I wish him all the best because I think he is a talented boy who can be world champion. If he has the chances of being world champion in the same team as Michael, then he can be world champion anywhere. Let's put it this way."

On the other hand, as John Surtees once noted about Jim Clark “it must always be the ambition of any driver to get into a competitive car and go wheel-to-wheel with the competitor who is widely regarded as the best.”

Nico Rosberg now has the same opportunity afforded to Barrichello. If he can match the nine Grand Prix victories Rubens notched up as team-mate to Michael, I reckon Keke’s boy will be doing pretty well.