SUZUKA, Japan, Oct 5, 2012 (AFP) - Mercedes' Nico Rosberg Friday insisted he had nothing to fear from the arrival of Lewis Hamilton next season to replace Formula One veteran Michael Schumacher.
Rosberg, well ahead of seven-time world champion Schumacher, 43, in this year's standings, called Hamilton "very, very quick" but said he was confident of holding his own next year.
"My team-mate now is a seven-time world champion so the talent I'm up against is very high," said the German. "So I think it's going to be a similarly difficult challenge. I remember racing Lewis in go-karts so I know it's going to be tough.
"He's very, very quick, one of the best out there at the moment. It's great he's joining the team. I'm confident I will do well. I'm pushing hard to do well.
"How I compare with my team-mate remains to be seen. I'm not worried or anything, as such, no."
Hamilton, the 2008 champion, was second fastest behind Australian Mark Webber of Red Bull in Friday's second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, with the retiring Schumacher and Rosberg 10th and 11th respectively.
The German showed some concern because of the lack of running during Friday practice.
It's no secret that Mercedes usually struggles to look after its rear tyres, but the team had hopes that a new exhaust upgrade introduced in Singapore would help with its tyre management.
Nevertheless, having to stop at the end FP1 for an engine change saw Rosberg to limit his run to just 19 laps in the second session and he admitted that meant there was still a lot of work to be done to get a set-up that will look after the tyres.
"We had a tricky day. At the end of the first practice session, the oil pressure sensor told me the system was low on pressure so I switched off the engine. It was coming to the end of its life, so we changed it during lunch to avoid any risks, but it cost some running time this afternoon.
We are still not where we want to be in terms of performance and we will have to learn some lessons overnight, in order to make sure we have our tyre management under control." Rosberg said.