Michael Schumacher believes it was "logical" for Fernando Alonso to recently nominate him as the major challenger for the 2011 title.
Some insiders and pundits have played down the seven time world champion's chances of success on his return to F1, particularly after a mixed performance in the wake of his three-year retirement in 2010.
But Schumacher told Bild newspaper that Alonso's prediction was not empty flattery.
"Fernando knows how to count and that things are going better and better, with the curve clearly on the up at the end of last season.
"He also knows that we have been working on our new car for a long time, so I think it's realistic for him to put Mercedes on the bill," said the 42-year-old.
Schumacher was also asked about the latest rumours surrounding Sebastian Vettel, including claims he is eyeing a future tie-up with either Ferrari or Mercedes.
"Purely hypothetically," answered the German, "it would be unreasonable if Mercedes didn't try to figure out if Sebastian wants to be with us in the future."