Rosberg surprises against Schumacher (Bahrain Grand Prix team mate battles)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Rosberg headed Schumacher all weekend long
Rosberg headed Schumacher all weekend long

Michael Schumacher was overshadowed by team mate Nico Rosberg on his return to F1.

Elsewhere Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton drew first blood as they began a new season alongside highly competitive team mates.

Yesterday we got our first glimpse of how many of the intriguing team mate battles will play out in 2010. Take a look at each team and drivers’ performances below.

In this first in a new series of articles we compare the performances of the drivers in each team. You can get a more detailed breakdown of their qualifying and race statistics including a graph of their lap times by following the ‘Compare…’ links below.


Jenson Button, McLaren, Bahrain, 2010

Despite their much-vaunted and controversial F-duct, which helped them enjoy higher straight line speeds than their rivals, McLaren never looked at home on the Bahrain circuit – especially over the bumpy new section.

Jenson Button

The weekend seemed to be going Button’s way after final practice, where he completed his programme while Hamilton lost time with a brake duct problem. But Hamilton out-qualified him to the tune of 0.4 seconds.

Starting eighth, Button was consigned to a race stuck in traffic, and losing a place to Mark Webber who drove around the outside of him at turn nine on the first lap didn’t help. His team gained him the place back in the pits.

Compare Jenson Button’s form against his team mate in 2010

Lewis Hamilton

The cameras didn’t catch exactly what happened between Hamilton and Felipe Massa at turn four on the first lap. But we know they went in side-by-side with Hamilton only slightly on the track, and came out with Massa ahead and Hamilton trying to fend off Nico Rosberg, so we can make an educated guess.

Hamilton spent 15 laps tucked up behind Rosberg which cost him in the region of ten to 12 seconds. Without that he would have at least been closer to the Ferraris, though probably not quick enough to pass them.

Compare Lewis Hamilton’s form against his team mate in 2010


Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2010

Hands up how many people expected Nico Rosberg to be consistently ahead of Michael Schumacher this weekend? I certainly didn’t, but Rosberg consistently headed the returning seven-times champion at Bahrain.

Michael Schumacher

Right from the off Schumacher trailled Rosberg by a couple of seconds and that picture didn’t change much until Sunday.

In the race Schumacher’s fastest lap was a couple of hundredths quicker than Rosberg’s. But the damage had already been done and he finished the Grand Prix in his team mate’s wheel tracks.

Schumacher pronounced himself satisfied with his weekend’s work. Is he putting a brave face on it – or has he figured out where he was losing time to Rosberg?

Compare Michael Schumacher’s form against his team mate in 2010

Nico Rosberg

Rosberg revived his 2009 tradition by being quickest in practice on Friday afternoon. He out-qualified Schumacher but said he was struggling to keep his tyres from overheating.

He kept Hamilton behind him in the early stages but the McLaren driver passed him at the first round of pit stops. With a couple of laps to go Rosberg caught Vettel’s ailing Red Bull but, according to Mercedes, “was unable to pass in the turbulent air.”

Compare Nico Rosberg’s form against his team mate in 2010

Red Bull

Bahrain Grand Prix start

After a difficult day on Friday Red Bull came on strong in qualifying with Sebastian Vettel taking pole position.

Sebastian Vettel

Vettel went quickest in Q2 and used just a single lap in Q3 to set pole position. He led the race up until the moment a faulty spark plug in his Renault engine slowed him down. Despite that he still finished fourth and ahead of his team mate.

Compare Sebastian Vettel’s form against his team mate in 2010

Mark Webber

The size of the gap to his team mate in qualifying – 1.1s – must have hurt Webber, who admitted:

[I] did my worst lap at the most important time. It was going well until Turn 16, but it wasn?t so good from there on.
Mark Webber

He put a smart pass on Button on the first lap of the race but slipped back to eighth in the pit stops, where he finished.

Compare Mark Webber’s form against his team mate in 2010


Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2010

The F10s looked quick all weekend and it was a surprise to see them lose pole to Vettel. Concerns over their engines lead them to change the units in both cars before the race.

Felipe Massa

The Ferrari drivers did two laps each in Q3 and Alonso was the quicker of them at first. But Massa turned the tables to claim second on the grid for the race.

Less-than-robust defending from Massa at turn one let Alonso by into second – unsurprisingly he did a much more thorough job against Hamilton three corners later. Towards the end of the race the team urged him to reduce his pace to save engine life.

Compare Felipe Massa’s form against his team mate in 2010

Fernando Alonso

Having worked his way past Massa at the start Alonso inherited the lead from Vettel later on.

He then let rip with a series of fastest laps, finishing up a full second faster than anyone else. This was a fascinating moment because Alonso had no need to show his hand by pushing that hard.

His team must have known Massa was having to conserve his car and there was no pressure from behind. So why give away so much about what the F10 is capable of?

Was this his way of saying to his team mate ‘look what I can do’? Or was he just enjoying not having to stare at Vettel’s rear wing for the first time in the race?

Compare Fernando Alonso’s form against his team mate in 2010


Nico H???lkenberg, Williams, Bahrain, 2010

Williams expected to reach Q3 but neither of their drivers made it.

Rubens Barrichello

Barrichello missed the cut for Q3 by less than 0.2s, being bumped out by Jenson Button in the dying moments of Q2.

Despite picking up some damage during the race Barrichello set the sixth fastest lap, suggesting there’s more to come from the FW32.

Compare Rubens Barrichello’s form against his team mate in 2010

Nico H???lkenberg

Rookie H???lkenberg was quicker than his team mate in practice but Barrichello delivered when it mattered – out-qualifying the GP2 champion by half a second.

H???lkenberg spun his car at turn two on lap six, and made an early pit stop immediately afterwards to switch to medium tyres. He opted not to try to complete the remaining 47 laps without another stop, making a second on lap 25.

Compare Nico H???lkenberg’s form against his team mate in 2010


Robert Kubica, Renault, Bahrain, 2010

Bad luck and unreliability cost Renault a shot at the points.

Robert Kubica

Kubica declared himself happy with reaching the top ten in qualifying but believed he’d have been 0.4s faster but for a mistake at the hairpin. That would have put him ahead of Schumacher’s Mercedes and Button’s McLaren.

His collision with Sutil on the first lap destroyed his tyres and his race – without it he felt a points finish was on the cards.

Compare Robert Kubica’s form against his team mate in 2010

Vitaly Petrov

A mistake at turn nine spoiled Petrov’s first qualifying effort in F1 and left him 17th in Q2, a painful 1.6s slower than his team mate.

But he made up a lot of places on the first lap and was running 11th when he suffered a suspension failure which ended his race. Renault said Kubica only avoided suffering the same problem because he chose to run a different ride height.

Compare Vitaly Petrov’s form against his team mate in 2010

Force India

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, Bahrain, 2010

An encouraging first run for the VJM023 saw the team break into Q3 and score points.

Adrian Sutil

An excellent lap by Sutil in Q2, beating his team mate by over 0.6s, earned him a place in the top ten.

Sutil was blameless for the his first-lap collision with Robert Kubica which was triggered by the eruption of smoke from Mark Webber’s Red Bull. He fought back through the field, setting second fastest lap on the way.

Compare Adrian Sutil’s form against his team mate in 2010

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi was happy with the balance of his car in Saturday morning practice but after qualifying he was complaining about poor traction in the VJM03.

In the race he profitted from the incident which delayed his team mate and came home ninth and leading runner outside of the ‘big four’. It looked like Sutil had better pace, though.

Compare Vitantonio Liuzzi’s form against his team mate in 2010

Toro Rosso

Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, Bahrain, 2010

Their one-lap pace in pre-season testing didn’t look bad but after problems in practice the Toro Rosso drivers were well down the grid.

Sebastien Buemi

Buemi said he felt he could have gone two-tenths faster on his qualifying lap but still made it through to Q2, beating his team mate. An impressive showing given the time he lost on Friday due to technical problems.

Too much wheel-spin at the start meant he lost two places, though he recovered them over the next two laps. Buemi felt he took his pit stop too late, costing him further places. His car came to a halt three laps from the chequered flag with an electrical problem while running 14th behind Alguersuari.

Compare Sebastien Buemi’s form against his team mate in 2010

Jaime Alguersuari

With the bottom six places in qualifying likely to be occupied by the six new cars for most of the early races at least, only one driver from the established teams is likely to be eliminated in Q1. This time it was Jaime Alguersuari and it could prove an easy and dangerous way to call attention to himself if he makes a habit of it.

He blamed a mistake during his flying lap on super-soft tyres for his elimination. He made a good start and raced in front of his team mate in the midfield.

Compare Jaime Alguersuari’s form against his team mate in 2010


Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Bahrain, 2010

Lost out to Virgin in the fight to be quickest of the new teams in qualifying, but had the last laugh in the race by having both cars classified while neither of the black-and-red cars finished.

Jarno Trulli

Always a strong driver in qualifying, Trulli beat his team mate by the comfortable margin of over half a second on Saturday. But his race was spoiled by understeer and, later, hydraulic problems.

Compare Jarno Trulli’s form against his team mate in 2010

Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen enjoyed a trouble-free first race for the T127 and finished as best of the runners in new cars.

Compare Heikki Kovalainen’s form against his team mate in 2010


Karun Chandhok, HRT, Bahrain, 2010

Trying to compare HRT’s drivers at this stage is a waste of time given how little running they got. Chandhok only appeared on track for the first time in qualifying. Both cars started the race from the pit lane.

Karun Chandhok

After making his F1 debut in qualifying Chandhok’s race ended on the second lap when he hit an unfamiliar bump and swiped the barriers.

Compare Karun Chandhok’s form against his team mate in 2010

Bruno Senna

Senna retired 18 laps into his F1 debut after suffering a mechanical failure.

Compare Bruno Senna’s form against his team mate in 2010


Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Bahrain, 2010

Some people had been talking up Sauber’s potential before the race but their lack of pace in Bahrain led some to wonder whether their car had been running light in testing.

But the feedback from the drivers was that the car was performing poorly on the new sequence at Bahrain and designer Willy Rampf said they had targetted a slot in Q2, so let’s not write them off just yet.

Pedro de la Rosa

De la Rosa said the C29 was ill-suited to the bumpy infield and felt he lost several tenths of a second through it on his fastest qualifying lap.

He was crowded out at the start and dropped down the order but pulled of the race’s few passes on his team mate to move up to 12th. Both eventually retired.

Compare Pedro de la Rosa’s form against his team mate in 2010

Kamui Kobayashi

Started the race on medium tyres and said afterwards the super-softs would have been the best way to go. Like his team mate he retired with an hydraulic failure.

Compare Kamui Kobayashi’s form against his team mate in 2010


Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Bahrain, 2010

More reliability woes for the VR-01 with limited running in practice.

Timo Glock

Timo Glock was at least able to get his practice programme done on Saturday morning despite a wheel gun problem causing one of his wheels to come off, fortunately not at high speed.

Glock was the fastest of the drivers for the new teams despite using the medium compound tyre in qualifying instead of the super softs. He passed Kovalainen to lead the newbies’ race but retired with a broken gearbox a few laps later.

Compare Timo Glock’s form against his team mate in 2010

Lucas di Grassi

More reliability problems with the VR-01 meant di Grassi did very little running. Given that, qualifying within a second of his more experienced team mate on his debut was a respectable effort.

He pulled off on the second lap of the race with an hydraulic failure.

Compare Lucas di Grassi’s form against his team mate in 2010


Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Rround
McLaren Jenson Button 1’55.672 +0.455 1’55.217 Lewis Hamilton Q3
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’55.524 +0.283 1’55.241 Nico Rosberg Q3
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’54.101 -1.183 1’55.284 Mark Webber Q3
Ferrari Felipe Massa 1’54.242 -0.366 1’54.608 Fernando Alonso Q3
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’55.330 -0.527 1’55.857 Nico H???lkenberg Q2
Renault Robert Kubica 1’54.963 -1.656 1’56.619 Vitaly Petrov Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’54.996 -0.657 1’55.653 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’56.189 -0.882 1’57.071 Jaime Alguersuari Q1
Lotus Jarno Trulli 1’59.852 -0.461 2’00.313 Heikki Kovalainen Q1
HRT Karun Chandhok 2’04.904 +1.664 2’03.240 Bruno Senna Q1
Sauber Pedro de la Rosa 1’56.237 -0.033 1’56.270 Kamui Kobyashi Q2
Virgin Timo Glock 1’59.728 -0.859 2’00.587 Lucas di Grassi Q1

This table compares the best lap times achieved by each teams’ drivers in the latest stage of qualifying both their drivers reached.

Race – fastest laps

Team Driver Fastest lap Gap Fastest lap Driver
McLaren Jenson Button 1’59.970 +0.410 1’59.560 Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 2’00.204 -0.032 2’00.236 Nico Rosberg
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 2’00.218 +0.731 1’59.487 Mark Webber
Ferrari Felipe Massa 1’59.732 +1.445 1’58.287 Fernando Alonso
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’59.833 -1.568 2’01.401 Nico H???lkenberg
Renault Robert Kubica 2’00.474 -3.833 2’04.307 Vitaly Petrov
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’59.393 -0.513 1’59.906 Vitantonio Liuzzi
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 2’00.080 +0.116 1’59.964 Jaime Alguersuari
Lotus Jarno Trulli 2’02.930 +0.229 2’02.701 Heikki Kovalainen
HRT Karun Chandhok 2’34.479 +25.352 2’09.127 Bruno Senna
Sauber Pedro de la Rosa 2’01.650 -3.394 2’05.044 Kamui Kobyashi
Virgin Timo Glock 2’07.062 -2.299 2’09.361 Lucas di Grassi

NB. Drivers in italics were not classified finishers (did not complete 90% of the race distance or more)

Race – average laps

Team Driver Average lap Gap Average lap Driver
McLaren Jenson Button 2’02.565 +0.451 2’02.114 Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 2’02.542 +0.081 2’02.461 Nico Rosberg
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 2’02.433 -0.154 2’02.587 Mark Webber
Ferrari Felipe Massa 2’01.969 +0.329 2’01.641 Fernando Alonso
Williams Rubens Barrichello 2’02.916 -2.892 2’05.808 Nico H???lkenberg
Renault Robert Kubica 2’03.051 -2.791 2’05.842 Vitaly Petrov
Force India Adrian Sutil 2’03.334 +0.611 2’02.723 Vitantonio Liuzzi
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 2’03.726 +0.194 2’03.532 Jaime Alguersuari
Lotus Jarno Trulli 2’09.373 +2.158 2’07.215 Heikki Kovalainen
HRT Karun Chandhok 2’34.479 +19.907 2’14.572 Bruno Senna
Sauber Pedro de la Rosa 2’05.114 -1.245 2’06.359 Kamui Kobyashi
Virgin Timo Glock 2’10.233 -4.005 2’14.238 Lucas di Grassi

NB. Drivers in italics were not classified finishers (did not complete 90% of the race distance or more)

Analysing the drivers

This is the first in a new series of articles after each race comparing how the drivers have done. Please give your feedback on what you would like to see from these articles in future and how they can be improved.

Images (C) Ferrari spa, Renault/LAT, Williams/LAT, Bridgestone,, Getty Images/Red Bull, Force India F1 Team, Lotus F1, Virgin Racing, BMW Sauber F1 Team, Motioncompany

108 comments on “Rosberg surprises against Schumacher (Bahrain Grand Prix team mate battles)”

  1. regarding rosberg v schumarcher, a lot of pundits (and some experts) have been saying it will take hime time to get up to speed (5 – 6 races), so i think it is still far to early to tell.

    Button, who hasnt had three years off but is still adjusting to a new team has a step mountain to climb. Can he do it? i’m undecided.

    1. How come Button has to adjust to a new team, but Alonso can step into a new team and get up to speed immediately? I keep hearing this excuse and it’s just rubbish. He’s not a child and he’s been in F1 for over 10 years.

      1. of for sure, there is an adjustment, i feel the/any future differance is a reflectance in ability, IMHO

        1. He had an unlucky qual and race, Don’t be too harsh after just one race.

      2. simple fact!, because Alonso is and has always been a lot more of a driver than Jenson Button!

        1. I like that comment!

          Alonso is best out there! Now he has a car that can deliver him his thrid WDC

          1. “Alonso is best out there!”

            No evidence to support this when an F1 rookie (lewis) completely whipped Alonso in his first session.

          2. Agreed, Alonso is beyond doubt the best and most complete driver out there. He’s good at setting up the car, getting the most out of it, he’s very consistent and he’s very fast. Massa could keep up with him reasonably the first race but he’s bound to make more mistakes throughout the season. If he can start up front he’s great, if he can’t he isn’t that good. Hamilton will smoke Button, Schumacher will keep up with Rosberg IMO but it’s not going to be easy, that guy is quick!

          3. Level on points is NOT “completely whipped”, Pablo.

        2. That and the fact that Alonso is in a better car than Jenson or Lewis right now. McLaren needs more downforce to take those slow and bumpy corners tighter.

          1. clearly pablo knowledge of the word whipped is miss lead. they finished equal on points in what was by far lewis best season(rookie or not he has not reproduced that form since consistently-fact)

            where alonso best from was 05-06 and probably now 2010 in a fair team.

      3. alonso is a better driver, and adapts faster, button needs more time to get to his best level. Which it’s below hamilton’s at any circuit on any conditions.

        1. Don’t forget that Jenson was also at effectively the same team with the same group of people for 7 years, and leaving that for a new environment must take a little getting used to.

          But still, 4 tenths? We’ll have to hope it’s a blip, for Jenson’s sake…

        2. Alonso is a better driver and not satisfied with just a win, feels compelled to set the fastest lap in the race just in case anyone out there is undecided (at the expense of his engine although admittadly it was only one lap)

          1. Richard, how do you feel about Schumacher?

            Anyone realise that Hamilton would have got better since he fought with Alonso? Button’s Hamilton surely would be more apt due to experience.

      4. davidvthokie
        17th March 2010, 10:56

        Because his car is red.

    2. Schumi realy has reason to be satisfied from his performance. After 3 years out and at this certain age, I thought his comeback will be fiasko. But this minor gap between him and Rosberg surprised me well. Now I am convinced that this is the greatest race driver of all times.

      1. Agree with your comments Emo.

        When you look at the graphs there was nothing in it the whole race. Which really shouldn’t be since Roseberg has been racing the last 3 years and schumi hasnt! and he is 41!

        Rossberg for me would need to be further ahead to completely justify his worth over schumi.

      2. Well said , wait till he gets the bit of the Merc. between his teeth , not saying Rosberg is a bad driver , but he will pale into insignificance compared to Schu.

  2. Wonder when Schumi is going to tell Rosberg the same thing he told Herbert…

    1. what did he tell Herbert?

      1. Bend over, my friend. :D

      2. when he saw a teammate who was as fast as him, stoped talking to him. He is not as ruthless now. Is it good or bad.?

        1. Since when have any of his team mates been faster than him? Maybe at odd races, but never consistantly.
          Lap times don’t lie.

          1. Herbert as fast as Schumacher? They’re having a laugh!

  3. seem a bit harsh to rate after first race
    especially with the huge shake up this year new cars and no refueling

  4. This one was fantastic, keith. The site is getting better day by day. Just what I was looking after

  5. ‘Hülkenberg spun his car at turn two on lap six’
    i believe it was turn 6, not 2.

    the tables are quite confusing. I would put all the faster team mates on the left and the slower ones on the right, for easier viewing.

  6. Who remembers whether Lauda was slower than his team mate when he came back in 82. I seem to remember that he was for the first race at least, by the third he was a winner again. An he had unlimited testing. I think that if Schumi can be 3tenths off, with but a tiny fraction of the car time that Rosberg has had over the last three years, right from the start of his first competative outing, that Rosberg should be more worried and Schumi then Schumi should be worried about himself.

    1. It could get interesting, I think Michael will be the faster by the end, he drove a nice conservative race, and ticked the boxes that needed ticking.

      1. yep agree with both of you, I think it was a good 1st outing for micheal.

        1. Schumi’s laps were massively consistant, usually within a tenth or so lap after lap. If he can find that extra bit of raw pace, Nico and the others should start worrying.

          1. actually, your right, that consistency is incredible…. wow….

    2. i don’t like the way people are concentrating on the fact that schumi is a couple of tenths off the pace and talkin as if he should beat rosberg hands down every time. For sure i thing he can find a bit more time but rosberg is one of the best racers out here in my opinion, and will the mastro a good run for his money most weekends.

  7. I hadn’t really though about how Rosberg would do in the opener against Schumacher – but I have to say that I was always left scratching my head at all the flak given to Rosberg by many commentators here before the season started. He seemed to do pretty well in a very average (if that) Williams car. And with Schumacher shaking off the rust, can’t say I’m very surprised.

    Fantastic work Keith. The team mate comparison tables will be very telling as the season wears on. Nice stuff!

  8. I was thinking maybe we should give arbitrary points to the winning team-mate each time for the sake of entertainment so that we can have a fair picture of their performance at the end of the year. e.g. Rosberg-Schumacher would be 1-0. And perhaps to award this not on the sole basis of “who finished ahead” but a fair analysis of performance?

  9. What a naive analysis.

    Shumi putting brave face?

    Only fools would expect him to come back from 3 years retirement and beat a talented guy like Rosberg.

    A lot of ex-champions, who know what they are talking as opposed to arm chair experts, said it will take him at least 3 races.

    It’s like a retired weight lifter who comes back on lifting almost the same weight as the competitive ones.

    Not to mentioned he beat the “deserving” world champ and Mark Weber who were in superior cars.

    1. Webber was quite unlcuky, and the new system of “do not pass” that has been implemented meant he couldn’t actually do anything about it, Look at the times Alonso set after he got past poor Vettel,

      I think as it stands now, If you aren’t in front by the 2nd lap, that’s it.

    2. I’m with you Avatar. Great point you make RE: the current WDC. What really struck me also is when I looked at the grid and realised that the team that won it all last season is all but a distant memory. I would suggest that season 2009 was bordering on being a farce when looked at from a afar. Nothing of meaning came out of the 2009 season. The results of the first race this season will atest to that.I guess we wouldn’t have the season we have in prospect now without 2009.

      So the 41yo legend comes in and displaces the PolyChamp straight up. I feel sorry for Vettel, that was his procession to win, damn mufflers! Lewis really Hammed it up and the Latin Kings are dancing. All in all I think Bahrain was a good “heat check” race and come Australia, things will start to get serious.

  10. Why are people surprised by Rosberg? The guy carried Williams by himself for the last 2 seasons. He’s every bit as good as Hamilton or Vettel.

    1. don’t think so.

      1. The problem with Rosberg is that we just don’t know. Aside from Webber in his first year, this is the first time he’s had a really decent team mate to compare him against. He has had quite a few impressive races, but he was beaten on more than the odd occasion by Nakajima and Wurz, and similarly has found himself in good positions before only to throw it away with a mistake.

        In having average team mates as well has made it difficult to truly judge his pace – last year’s Williams was pretty handy, but did Nico get as much out of it as he could?
        Hopefully this season should give us a better understanding of his talent.

        1. Vettel made a few mistakes last year and was beaten a few times by Webber but nobody doubts his ability.

          Hamilton has made a lot of mistakes but nobody doubts his ability.

          Rosberg puts Schumacher in his place all weekend but “oh he’s not that good”.

  11. Fantastic feature!

  12. I doubt Mercedes would settle for a slouch. They knew what they were getting with Rosberg. He deserves the respect that he will eventually with get from his doubters.

  13. kieth

    “enjoying not having to star at Vettel’s rear wing for the first time”, was alonso seeing star’s?

    and why is the picture of the torro rosso’s a picture of the ferrari’s?

    1. Because Keith rather understandably thought Toro Rosso were so poor, they didn’t deserve a picture :P

      1. And they do have Ferrari engines after all…

    2. Both fixed, ta!

  14. Perhaps Sunday’s events will force Red Bull to stop endlessly complaining that the Renault is down on power (a nonsense stance given the advantage its fuel efficiency gives them) and to really look at why it occasionally falls to pieces when they put it in the car, but works fine most of the time in the Renault cars.

    1. Doubt it – Webber was complaining on Twitter after the race that he couldn’t do anything about ‘Mercedes power’.

  15. Button & Webber did disappointed me in the qualifying, a lot was expected from Sauber,hope they deliver in the future.

    1. ” a lot was expected from Sauber ”

      not by people who don’t believe testing times!

  16. Hi Keith ! Fantastic analysis, well done. The point I have to say is that for the next it would be better to have the same scale for the graph. I observed that the trend of the time chart of the two Force India is very interesting.

  17. for all the headlines (this one included) Schumi was closer to his team in all categories then any of the other second drivers – give him a couple of races and it will be business as usual.

  18. Quite impressed with Schumacher’s return having thought about it for a few days.

    How far off the pace was Mika when he last tested? Schumacher is on it, and when did he last race? Either Rosberg is slow, or Schumacher has exceeded *reasonable* expectations. I expect Schumacher will be consistently outpacing Rosberg by Barcelona….

    1. Agreed. The bigger worry for Schumacher than beating Rosberg (which will happen after another race or two) I think is the pace they will have to find in the Merc. to deal with Ferrari’s , and McLaren don’t appear too far behind that either. Schu./Brawn are looking at a long hard year ahead.

  19. Michael Schumacher is in the spotlight!!!

  20. Say what you will about Schumi’s “failure” to out perform Nico. His biggest let down was getting out qualified by his younger stablemate.

    What will be his excuse in Melbourne if it happens again??? (And I picked Schumi to win the WDC this year.)

  21. “With a couple of laps to go Rosberg caught Vettel’s ailing Red Bull but, according to Mercedes, “was unable to pass in the turbulent air.”” This is the problem with modern F1, not the refuelling ban.

    So many things on today’s cars, though they may be legal, are not in the spirit of the rules which were introduced in 2009. Things like double deck diffusers, snowploughs, F ducts, outboard wing mirrors, barge boards, the shark gills which are making a return. All these things increase the downforce produced by the car, and make it difficult for cars to follow each other closely.

    As much as we want to see cars following each other closely and racing wheel to wheel, they simply can’t because of the ingenious work of F1’s engineers. I fear we will never see cars following each other as closely as they did in the early 90’s without another radical change in F1’s technical regulations. The problem is that you simply cannot un-invent these devices, so teams will always find ways to get them back onto their cars.

  22. Hello Keith, i really like this comparison between team mates.

    What i wanted to ask about are the details in the comparison of team mates. I do not get the laps completed stat – for Trulli vs. Kovalainen it says 46/49 completed and for Kovalainen vs. Trulli it says 47/49. Is this the part of the race completed for each driver? Maybe a comparison would be more interesting here.

    1. Good idea – I’ll change that when I update the stats for Australia.

  23. Great effort, thank you Keith.

    But I have to disagree with you in that Rosberg consistently outclassed Schumacher. Rosberg finished race just 4 sec ahead of Schumacher and if you look at the graph, Schumacher looked after his tyres at both his stints than Rosberg did, not to mention his better lap times in the middle of the race.

    I’d say, yes, Rosberg outclassed Schumacher but it was not that Hamilton’s superiority to Button. 0.4s means that it is 0.008s per lap, which is nothing to be honest.

  24. Great job Keith !
    It seems that Schumacher is only 0.1 slower than Rosberg. That’s gonna be an epic battle and I like that !

  25. I was pleasantly surprised at Massa’s pace against Alonso. He didn’t get the best of starts and wasn’t particularly clever which is something he has to work on when against a driver as good as Alonso. That said, it was a good start and a great way to return to the sport with p2.
    Massa was probably a bit cheeky and I think too aggressive with Hamilton. It looked like he really squeezed him but Hamilton was able to inch ahead but outbraked himself which is what cost him. I didn’t really like what Massa done there, he went from being a bit dopey or far too fair giving Fernando room to being very aggressive all in a matter of seconds.
    The big surprise for me though was actually Button as I thought he would be a bit closer to Hamilton but it was just his debut for the team and he was stuck in midfield so it’s not the end of the world but he needs to up his game.
    Petrov was going very well and he could be good to watch out of the newbies.
    I know this is about comparing teammates performances but I’d like to say Chandhok and Senna showed a lot of maturity and coped superbly.
    Vettel was again blindingly quick but Webber’s weekened was over as soon as he made that mistake in q3.

    1. It will be interesting to see if Massa gives Alonso that much space next time, I don’t think Alonso would have been so generous had the roles been reversed.

      1. remember massa was defending against hamilton, he had to make a choice. wasnt a case of letting fernando by, he had an average start, alonso had a better one.

        1. Massa and Alonso got off the line fairly similarly. Alonso used the slipstream to get alongside Massa into turn one, and positioned himself on the outside so that he would be on the inside for turn two. Alonso passing Massa was what slowed Felipe and allowed Hamilton to get a run on him.

    2. Psychologically or strategically interesting, not sure which: Massa soft on Alonso-the-teammate, hard on Hammy-the-rival. I expect this will be turned on its head in a few short races! Massa will have to start getting under Alonso’s skin if he wants to chase the title – something he’s well capable of doing it should be added. Hamilton had the entirely right idea back in 2007. Alonso is brilliant at ‘pulling a fast one’ as he did on Massa in this opener, you’ve got to second guess him or unnerve him.

  26. wong chin kong
    16th March 2010, 9:09

    Schumacher complain that he was not used to the thin small front wheels and had problems going around corners because of tire size. I am not convince of this excuse for his poor performance compared to Nico because he had ample time to adjust his driving style in testing. A few more races ahead, I should be able to hear his solution to his poor speed performance.

  27. No surprise to me or many of us. Not at all.

    I’ve always said Rosberg would be quicker the Schumacher (even over the whole season although it will be closer come the end of the season).

    Re the other drivers totally dependant on who they got pegged behind. Although in Buttons and Webbers case it was kind of their fault(s) for poor qualifying.

  28. I think the title of the article (which is great btw) should really be about Hamilton leaving a way better impression that button did…

    1. Hamilton beating Button was pretty much a certainty though. Whoever was going to come out on top at Mercedes was a bit more up in the air.

  29. Bit off topic, but with people still going on about the poor performance of the new teams I thought I’d check on the first outings of the established teams.

    Ferrari, Monaco 1950, 4 cars , +1 lap, +3 laps, DNF, DNF
    McLaren, Monaco 1966, 1 car only, DNF
    Red Bull (originally Stewart GP), Australia 1977, 2 cars, DNF, DNF
    Mercedes (originally Tyrrell), Germany 1966, 2 cars, +1lap, DNF
    Force India (originally Jordan), USA 1991, 1 car only, +6 laps not running at finish
    Williams, Spain 1977, 1 car only, +4 laps
    Renault (originally Toleman), San Marino 1981, 2 cars, DNQ, DNQ
    Torro Rosso (originally Minardi), Brazil 1985, 1 car only, DNF

    The current crop of new teams seem to be in good company!

    1. Ha ha nice, somebody should email that to all the team principals.

    2. Let’s Ferrari have a good look at those garazista teams limping in :-O

      Are you sure on the RedBull / Stewart GP, i thought it entered in 1997, not 2 decades earlier?

      1. Stewart sold to Jaguar who sold to Red Bull. You could argue that Mercedes started as BAR because they didn’t use much of Tyrrell, but then that would be worse with DNF, DNF. Williams had an earlier foray in the 60’s with a worse starting record…. Ferrari is the best record, but they were all new teams then!

      2. Sorry typo on the date 1997, not 1977 :-(

    3. You know, that is quite interesting.

  30. Nice article, but I have slightly different oppinions on the race:
    1. I did expect Rosberg to be faster than Schumacher. Rosberg is fast and this year he has a pretty good car.
    2. Alonso is usually good at the starts, so it was not surprising for me to see him passing Massa
    3. Massa looked a bit disappointed being second after Alonso, so I don’t think he let Alonso pass him, as some people is insinuating

    And a question: does someone know if it is true that Vettel run out of fuel, and that’s why he stopped so suddenly? I don’t think so, but I wanted to know if someone else knew about it. Thanks

  31. Great comparison there Keith… as usual!

  32. Don’t write-off Button just yet. He was suffering a lot to warm up those hard tyres. Actually I am really surprised with the choice made by Bridgestone. Both components were very hard and similar. Probably they were afraid of the weight of the new cars so just went for a safe bet (afraid of a Indianapolis 2005??). I hope they change in the future races as that will bring more room for strategy, surprises and team mate comparisons. By the way IMHO Massa didn’t open the door for Alonso, just made a poor start and that is all Alonso needed to pass him.

    1. “Don’t write-off Button just yet. He was suffering a lot to warm up those hard tyres”

      Why didn’t he use this difficulty to push harder then? By looking at times on the time talbe, it seems everybody in the top 8 (bar maybe Alonso) tried to nurse their cars.

  33. This is good stuff, Keith. You must congratulate your staff, who obviously number in the dozens, for their hard work. Let me know if there are openings. I dropped out of engineering school, but I can still wield a calculator.

    I don’t know why it’s too early to write off Button. It’s not like he and Hamilton began racing last week. After last year, what more evidence do we need that he is nothing special in a difficult car, and roughly the match of Barichello in a good one. As many have said, Alonso jumped into the car against a brilliant incumbent and showed Massa his heels straight away. There are a lot of good drivers out there—its no good to say, he’ll catch on sooner or later.

    Button has signed on to team with the man who dominated the last third of last season, and Button, in a car that began seconds off the pace, and who left his quite competent teammate in the dust in the process. This will not work out for him, and the worse the car remains, the worse he will look vis a vis Hamilton. If the team developes a consistent strong car, his greater maturity and smoothness may force Hamilton into his old silliness to keep ahead of him, but that is a wan hope.

    1. You must congratulate your staff, who obviously number in the dozens, for their hard work.

      A-ha-ha. I wish. No, it’ still just me I’m afraid!

      1. This site is better than the so called “well established” motor sports sites out there. Keep up the good work Keith

        1. Thanks hvk – any suggestions you have for improvements please let me know.

  34. “Hands up how many people expected Nico Rosberg to be consistently ahead of Michael Schumacher this weekend?”

    Hand up. Schumacher doesn’t do self-doubt and that definitely works in has favour in PR terms. But on the track? I don’t see him making up this difference.

    1. The difference wasn’t too great, and I see him improving in the coming races.

      1. I would expect him to improve at Melbourne a bit,

        Sakir was never his strongest track,

      2. Maybe. He seems to think he’ll need a few races to come up to speed, but the other question is his ability to keep performing at this high level over a long season. Certainly he deserves admiration, I just wonder whether he’s underestimated Rosberg. He seems fairly put out by being behind already.

  35. hand up, I knew Rosberg had skill since last year. He always made up places then and now he is in a better car, so there should be no excuses for him not to be up front.

  36. Can you give the drivers marks out of ten?

    1. No I’m going to stick to doing the half-term and end-of-year rankings though.

  37. Hi Keith,

    Great analysis, as always.

    However, if I beg to disagree one one point would be the fight between Massa and Hamilton. We couldn’t see it on TV, but Hamilton himself told that he missed the braking point and ran wide. They both have sent each other to the gravel in the past, but I don’t believe that was the case this time.

    Keep up the great work!

  38. Giving new team members benefit of the doubt.
    Schumacher 3 years out and 4 seconds behind Rosberg at the end of his first race back aint terminal.
    Button was a little disappointing for me but considering it’s his first new team in 7 years I’d imagine there’s been a fair amount of upheaval going on, plus he seemed pretty calm and happy after the race considering the gap to Lewis.
    Alonso I feel was a little lucky with Massa’s leniency at the start and Vettel’s problem but is pretty clearly the most settled in of all the changers. Impressed with Massa despite the start and expect him to keep up with Alonso throughout the season.
    Didn’t see much of Webber but he seemed fast enough in the race until meeting traffic so I’d guess he’ll be closer to Vettel in the future.

  39. “Right from the off Schumacher trailled Rosberg by a couple of seconds and that picture didn’t change much until Sunday.”

    A couple of tenths.

  40. I just have a few thoughts on the drivers after the first race:
    Alonso has to show Ferrari, Massa and the Tifosi that he does mean it when he says he wants to be in the Red Cars, so I expect him to push himself, the car and the team as much as he can all season. As the newbie, he wants to show that he is better at everything than old fogey Massa…..
    Massa on the other hand, has been here before, so he will start responding in a similar manner, from the next race, he won’t want to be demoted to Number 2 for another year. The crunch will come later on when they both demand equal rights after an equal number of wins….
    Hammy is loving having another Brit in the team, especially one with a different driving style. And having lost his father as Manager, he will be looking for a freedom to win in his own way.
    Of course Button is having difficulty adjusting to the new car and team. He was so involved in Honda/Brawn, that any switch would be, well I won’t say emotional, but certainly fraught. Now he has to prove he is worthy of being WDC, but without the familar faces to help him. Or did he bring his own personal team with him?
    The driver who I think is feeling the strain already is Old Schuey. Its OK to be patriotic, but isn’t he automatically Number 1 wherever he is? How many races will it take before he admits he has lost it? I didn’t see any sign of him helping with car development or doing his miracle working between Practice and Qualifying, and the Race. Is he actually interested in racing, or just in being there, reliving his past?

  41. I haven’t read the article fully yet but I have to answer to this question:

    “Hands up how many people expected Nico Rosberg to be consistently ahead of Michael Schumacher this weekend?”

    I raise my hand! :-)

  42. Rosberg was racing an old man they will say when he beacts Michael but when Shumacherm wins it will be “Rosberg was overrated at Williams”

  43. Good analysis Keith. I’m also interested in those who don’t think Hamilton’s pace over Button was significant. I would suggest you highlight in/out laps plus the first flying lap on new tyres, as this throws up another interesting comparison between team mates.

    You obviously have to take traffic into account but watching the race back it didn’t appear that many drivers were held up significantly on these laps (look at race lap analysis on the website).

    Jenson gained 0.06s on the in-lap but then lost 1.067s on the out-lap and a further 1.054s on the first flying lap on the new tyres.

    He admitted himself afterwards that he was perhaps a bit too conservative in the first stint but this procession really isn’t a surprise when 80%and more of the overall car performance is from aerodynamics.

    I’m apprehensive for the rest of the season in terms of racing but you never know, a safety car may throw a spanner in the works and give us an unpredictable result.

  44. @ Keith:
    Always love your analyses. F1fanatic is my No.1 F1 read since a while now.

    One general addition to your post-race analysis and team-mate comparisons would be a ‘fair’ analysis of *real* on-track overtaking (aka. dog fighting).
    A tally over the season of real passes in several categories would be interesting by itself and objectify the ‘boring procession’ debate:
    1)Turn 1 passes (determines the best and most aggressive starter)
    2)Lap 1 (from turn 2 onwards)
    3) all other laps.

    Pit-stop passes and passes due to technical problems with the leading car shouldn’t count or tallied in separate categories. It’s a bit extra labor and not fully automate-able, I guess, but with the data you have it should be possible to semi-automate it by triggering on the ‘cross-overs’ in the position vs. lap plot and throwing out the irregulars.

    Unfortunately the TV focuses so much on the leaders that they simply don’t show the good dog-fights further back. It biases the perception towards ‘boring processions’. IMHO there’s much more skillful driving going on further down the pack than the TV directors choose to present.

  45. “The cameras didn’t catch exactly what happened between Hamilton and Felipe Massa at turn four on the first lap. But we know they went in side-by-side with Hamilton only slightly on the track, and came out with Massa ahead and Hamilton trying to fend off Nico Rosberg, so we can make an educated guess.”

    For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a link to a video on the beeb with Lewis… in it, they show the onboard footage of Massa pushing him wide.

    Shame they didn’t show this during the race, I’m sure most people don’t know what happened.

    Lewis was quite kind, calling Massa ‘competitive’, and someone made a remark about him just assuming it was Alonso, not Massa, because of their past form! It’s quite funny.

    1. “and someone made a remark about him just assuming it was Alonso, not Massa”
      DC said that :P Lewis was quite polite about it all

  46. Schumacher will methodically ease his way back to form. Within 3 or 4 races he will be fighting for the lead with Alonso and Hamilton while Rosberg will be trying to keep up with Button and Webber.

  47. Good job by Nico, but then again, he’s no slouch. The problem Rosberg faces is this: Schumacher knows why he is slow. Does Rosberg know why he is fast? Schumacher – like Senna – has a talent to be at a consistently high level nearly all the time. He only needs to just beat Nico, and he’ll stay there.

    We know from Schumacher what the problem was, that he was unhappy with the balance and behaviour of the front tyres, that this did not suit him and that he needs to do more work.

    Schumacher’s discipline and work ethic are second-to-none. His consistency – as highlighted above – is freakish, and he has alway been the kind of driver to eke out the tenths here and there. Ross Brawn is an engineer that works the same way.

    As for the teammate relationship, I think Nico is a hard-headed, independent guy. I doubt – politically – that Schumacher will be able to pull any strings in terms of team influence. Plus, he cannot test as much as he likes. More likely he will turn to his natural leadership ability and cause the team to gravitate around him.

  48. I’ve never been a Schumacher fan, but as with others I’m glad to see him back for comparison purposes with the current bunch, and so we don’t remember him as an occasional cheater as his reviews following his retirement continually highlighted.
    His return showed good consistency at least, and the man himself seems far more relaxed – a bloody good thing too considering all the ‘well your over 40 now, eyesight going?’ etc nonsense he’s had to put up with from the media. And that was the excellent Ted Kravitz who blundered in with that one!

  49. Rosberg seems to have found a second wind for now. Come on lad, nows your chance to prove yourself and bring more rivalry spice to the grid…

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