Lewis Hamilton has revealed that racing against seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher will feel more special than with any of his other competitors, after getting a taste of driving wheel-to-wheel with the German at last week's Barcelona test.
Hamilton, who began his F1 career just after Schumacher retired from racing at the end of 2006, says that the 41-year-old veteran will still be in top form come Bahrain and will pose as great a threat to his McLaren team as any of his rivals.
"It was really good fun," Hamilton told Autosport of dicing with Schumacher whilst on a race simulation on Sunday.
"I was on my long run, on my last stint, and I caught Michael up. Rather than backing off, I thought, 'let's have some fun and see if we can get close to him!'
"It was really, really hard work and good to experience what the new car is like when behind people. So I was challenging, I was learning new things and thinking I need to get past him really quick.
"I managed to get up in the inside of him on one of the corners, and I think he had fun as well—but we were clearly seconds of difference in time because he was heavier with fuel and I was lighter. But it was really cool."
Hamilton has always revelled in the prospect of being able to battle with the 91-time race winner in Formula One. Schumacher had looked set to fill in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa for the latter part of last season, but the German was forced to pull-out due to a persistent neck injury.
"[Racing Schumacher will be] an honour and a privilege," the 2008 champion said when asked how he felt about the last time the now-Mercedes driver was set for a comeback.
Hamilton has not been the only driver relishing in the prospect of being able to fight Schumacher.
"It's great news for our sport," teammate Nico Rosberg said when Mercedes announced whom he would be partnered with for 2010.
"It is a great challenge to race side-by-side with the best driver ever. I am convinced that Michael has not lost his speed.”