Flavio Briatore does not think Michael Schumacher will ever again demonstrate the form that netted him seven world titles until his initial retirement.
Three years after vacating his Ferrari cockpit in 2006, Schumacher has so far struggled to match his teammate Nico Rosberg at the wheel of Mercedes’ 2010 car.
Pundits are split on whether the 41-year-old is past his prime or simply taking time to get up to speed.
Briatore, no longer involved in F1 in the wake of last year’s Renault crashgate scandal, was team boss at Benetton at the time of Schumacher’s first back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.
Italian reports quote the 60-year-old as saying the German “will not revive” the form of his first career.
“I always said that Michael would find it tough against Rosberg,” said Briatore.
“This year is going to be uncomfortable for him because there have never been so many good drivers fighting to win grands prix,” he added.