Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday it would be an "honour and a privilege" to race against Michael Schumacher following the German's shock return to the sport.
Schumacher, now 40, retired from Formula One at the end of 2006 but is expected to make his comeback for Ferrari in Valencia, Spain next month in place of Felipe Massa.
The Brazilian suffered a fractured skull during qualifying for last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was only nine when Schumacher won the first of his seven world titles and began his Formula One career a few months after the German retired.
"I am excited by the possibility of Michael Schumacher's return to Formula 1, assuming it happens, but my thoughts are still with Felipe and his family following his terrible accident in Hungary," Hamilton said in a statement from his McLaren team.
"Michael is one of the sport's greatest competitors and a legend in his own right and it would be great to compete against him.
"The whole world will be watching his return to the cockpit in Valencia and it will not only be fascinating to see how he readies himself for his Grand Prix comeback but also an honour and a privilege to race against him for the very first time.
"I wish him well," he added.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is confident a special programme of preparation would get Schumacher in shape to race again despite a back injury.
"I hope the tests help him rediscover his physical condition and I am happy to have convinced him. Michael is a man who accepts challenges," Montezemolo told reporters at the world swimming championships in Rome.
"This is a sign for Formula One, which needs to be revitalised," added the head of the Formula One Teams Association, which earlier this year threatened to form a breakaway series in a row over rules.