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

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

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

  1. kimiko said on 16th March 2010, 2:17

    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.

  2. billatron said on 16th March 2010, 3:13

    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.

  3. b0son said on 16th March 2010, 3:49

    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….

    • Jean said on 16th March 2010, 13:53

      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.

  4. Michael Schumacher is in the spotlight!!!

  5. 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.)

  6. GeeMac said on 16th March 2010, 6:21

    “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.

  7. BasCB said on 16th March 2010, 7:34

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 !

  10. steph said on 16th March 2010, 8:56

    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.

    • PJA said on 16th March 2010, 9:37

      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.

      • theo said on 16th March 2010, 10:20

        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.

        • DanThorn said on 16th March 2010, 10:56

          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.

    • David BR said on 16th March 2010, 14:11

      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.

  11. wong chin kong said on 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.

  12. BBT said on 16th March 2010, 9:22

    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.

  13. Tango said on 16th March 2010, 9:56

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

    • DanThorn said on 16th March 2010, 10:58

      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.

  14. Jim N said on 16th March 2010, 10:09

    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!

    • spawinte said on 16th March 2010, 10:20

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

    • BasCB said on 16th March 2010, 10:22

      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?

      • Jim N said on 16th March 2010, 10:37

        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!

      • Jim N said on 16th March 2010, 10:41

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

    • Mike said on 16th March 2010, 16:16

      You know, that is quite interesting.

  15. roser said on 16th March 2010, 11:06

    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

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