Schumacher fails to shine in rain

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Schumacher starts six places behind Rosberg in Malaysia
Schumacher starts six places behind Rosberg in Malaysia

The third race weekend of Michael Schumacher’s F1 comeback doesn’t seem to be going much better than the first two.

That was despite a wet qualifying session giving the man they called ‘Regenmeister’ an opportunity to demonstrate the skills that won him many wet F1 races.

Team mate Nico Rosberg out-qualified him by more than a second on the same track, on the same tyres, at the same time.

Schumacher was also out-qualified by both Williams drivers and Robert Kubica’s Renault – all cars that don’t belong in front of a Mercedes W01.

Schumacher’s trials in the Mercedes had previously been put down to his lack of time testing the car, and needing to get up-to-speed with the new specification Bridgestone rubber.

But I can’t have been alone in thinking that, shown a wet piece of track, Schumacher would return to his old form. Instead, he was even further behind Rosberg than usual.

He started the session well. Mercedes, like McLaren and Ferrari, sent their cars out later on the wet track in Q1. But both their drivers succeeded in setting a fast enough time on their sole runs to make it safety into Q2.

Schumacher’s first lap was a 1’52.239, almost matching Jenson Button’s which he set at the same time. It was also three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg’s effort.

But in Q3 Rosberg turned the tables. Each driver had time for three laps in the shortened session and Rosberg’s best lap was 1.044s faster than his illustrious team mate’s. Afterwards Schumacher said he’d taken too much out of his tyres on his first run in Q3:

On my last run in Q3, I wanted to secure a lap time and then go for the second lap but after I finished my first quick lap, the tyres were already gone so I could not go for it anymore.
Michael Schumacher

The times show Rosberg took care of his tyres on his first run:





At the head of the field was Mark Webber, who a gamble to run intermediate tyres and successded – exactly the sort of tactic we came to expect from Schumacher in his day. Immediately behind Webber on the grid are a roster of four German drivers – none of them Michael Schumacher.

It’s another result for him to grin and bear. At what point do we start asking how many of them he’s willing to put up with?

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

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix

122 comments on “Schumacher fails to shine in rain”

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  1. I have been a long time Schumi fan. And these 3 and a half races have been disappointing to watch so far.

    I think he was too complacent going into the season and that over-confidence is catching up with him now.

    Although, the positive feeling is Schumacher has hit rock-bottom now. The only way now is up. Lets hope he makes the podium tomorrow.

    1. Im Schumi’s fan too for about 10-11 years. And yeah, I hoped he is better, but if he has adeal till end of 2012 then its no need to make a panic. Myb he will be champion next year. And even he hasnt been leader, I like to watch him driving. And the best, he is now doing his hobbie :)

  2. I have not read anything to indicate they are running the same settings, so a one second gap if one driver is running dry settings and the other wet….seems reasonable….

  3. Greg Beckett
    3rd April 2010, 15:22

    I personally think, as much as the press built up that Schumacher would be back to his best within short time, so many people underrated Rosberg that it’s made this situation appear worse. He’s always been a consistent runner in my eyes, that’s his biggest strength, reliability. 10 out of 12 races he spent in the points in the opening of last year in a not so great car. He has a decent chance of his first ever win tomorrow, and two 5th’s before isn’t bad considering the McLaren’s and Ferrari’s are quicker.

    I’m keeping a close eye on how he progresses, but I never assumed Michael would blow him away from the outset. Possibly the toughest team-mate you could face is someone consistent when you’ve been out the sport for 3 years.

    I’ll be judging Schumacher on his second half of the season. He needs to start progressing soon though, I thought this was a golden opportunity for him to get at least second row. Poor preformance in Q3 there.

  4. wong chin kong
    3rd April 2010, 15:29

    The title ‘Schumacher fails to shine in the wet,’ is not appropriate. It tends to solicit comments on those drivers qualifying in front of him. What about those so called good drivers, Alonso, Massa, Button, Hamilton now at the back of the grid. Qualifying times in Malaysian GP with freak unpredictable weather is like lottery draw and the grid places doesn’t tell anything on the drivers’ prowess. If it rains cats and dogs on race day, I bet the race positions will all be messed up and who knows, unexpected drivers will be in the poduim.

    1. Schumacher was on track at the same time as Rosberg. He didn’t “fail” because of freak weather conditions or bad strategy calls. He just wasn’t fast enough under the same circumstances.

  5. Perhaps it is the lack of testing that is hurting him.

    Schumacher is not used to this testing ban. He would generally keep testing alongwith Ferrari much more than any other team.
    Running the car only on Fridays for practice is clearly not enough for him.

    Plus, for the first time in his career he is being equal to his team-mate.

    But tomorrow is Schumi’s ultimate test. If he fades away tomorrow as well, then serious questions need to be asked

  6. I think Schumacher is proclaimed regenmesiter mostly for one great race in the rain and (by his own account) that was mostly because his engine was lacking power. In other races he put down some poor performances too. I don’t think he really stood out in the rain.

    I clearly remember Schumacher being pretty poor in the wet while driving for Benetton and Alesi being amazing in the rain in his Ferrari. The next season they changed teams and all of a sudden Schumacher was driving well in the rain and Alesi was strugling.

    I’d say most of the great rain performances is based on the cars handling (be it the car in general or the specific setup for that race) rather than just the drivers skill.

    1. Aside from Spain in 1996 (the “one great race” you may well be talking about), people rave about the time he held off Hill at Belgium in 1995 on dry tyres for over a lap, while his title rival was on wet tyres.

      I do on the other hand agree that the car setup can to an extent influence performances in the rain.

  7. However great a driver Schumi was, he relied very heavily on being a clear number 1 with a team built around him and a car built to match his driving style (which was detrimental to his team-mates like Herbert with very different styles). Even then Rubens sometimes was quicker. In a properly equal set-up with a car he had no role in the initial development of, I never expected him to do particularly well, or leave Rosberg trailing, though I am surprised he’s been as poor as he has.

    Ultimately though the Schumi ‘myth’ – and I mean that positively – was always a construct. He was the finest of his generation, but favourable team set-ups, favourable FIA and steward decisions, most often the best car under him, and an aura that Ferrari nurtured by carefully managing the media so he was seen as infallible in order to intimidate his contemporaries, turned a probable 3/4 time champion into a 7 time champion. There’s a lot of relatively average guys that given that sort of treatment could have won a title.

    So he’s human, but he’s not lost it, he could and should still win a race this year, all we’re seeing is the reality of F1, that what happens outside the car has huge impact on what happens in it. I picked him for 7th in the championship, ok, looks like maybe 8th, still no great surprise.

  8. tho a bit slower his lap times are more consistent. nico took it easy on the first lap and so had more grip when the track was slightly better a few mins later. if it had rained just after that first lap then we would be looking at a totally different result. michael would of been 5th and nico 10th.

    nico did a better job cos he conserved his wets but that would of looked silly if the weather had turned.

    1. Well the predictions were that it would be drier. That’s why Webber went out on his intermediates even.

      Of course the predictions are wrong a lot (start of the Australia race and Q1 in Malaysia)

  9. I his debrief he almost confess how bad he was in this qualifying:


    “I am obviously a little disappointed with my result today as it was evident from the earlier qualifying sessions that we looked pretty good and I clearly could have achieved more. On my last run in Q3, I wanted to secure a lap time and then go for the second lap but after I finished my first quick lap, the tyres were already gone so I could not go for it anymore. Though it is good to know the limits of the wet tyres for tomorrow, now I have to concentrate fully on the race. Congratulations to Nico today for scoring our first front row qualifying result…”

    I still miss Norbert Haugh press releases:


    “Today was a qualifying session where anything was possible and we saw some surprising results like three World Champions starting the race from 17th, 19th and 20th positions. Michael did the best job amongst the Champions finishing in eighth place.

  10. Well, its a big dilemma,
    MSC vs ROS,
    Experienced vs Young,
    Has everything to lose vs has everything to gain,
    Pressure of fame vs pressure of Father’s fame
    Returner vs Shiner
    I don’t care about ROS vs I have to outperform MSC

    MSC,, he has everything to lose and nothing to gain with his comeback and to tell me that we will need couple of races to regain his form, I disagree,, Its Michael,, he was the magician of F1,, in wet and in dry,, no matter what stage of the race, fuel, tire,, he use to get it but seems that he is out of tricks, may be its due to the fact that he is under a great pressure,, yes to prove that he is still the godfather of F1,, its no longer the battle of MSC vs Prost or Senna or Mika or even ROS. This the battle of MSC (2004) to MSC (2010). You could have seen that clearly today in the Q3 garage while they stopped the race how pressured he was. Never seen it so obvious on Shumi ever before.

    As for ROS,, no question he is a skilful driver, Calm and difficult to be pressured, Hope he holds his P2 although he is not so known for aggressive overtakes,

    Prediction for Sunday:
    Safety car 1st lap, Alonza, Massa or Button.
    Shumi’s best is 6th
    Redbull 1,2

  11. I dont think MS is doing that badly, in fact I think its Rosberg that is doing very well. MS is not the man he used to be and may never be that however, its too early to tell imo. His teammate is not in the position that Rubens was he is allowed to run how he wants.
    Not even being a MS fan I would wait till the 2nd half of the season before I start to look too deeply into his results.

  12. John Edwards
    3rd April 2010, 17:41

    Give the bloke a break.

    I’m no Schumacher fan, but the bloke needs time in the car. Although I’m now feeling sorry for him which is conflicting me!

    The car may not be to his liking yet, I think he’ll be there in time.

    He’s enjoying himself and I don’t think he actually gives a monkeys about what people think.

  13. John Edwards
    3rd April 2010, 17:43

    Oh and another thing, Schumacher has been beaten on a wet track before. Remember when David Coulthard panned him in Brazil after Mclaren attempted to give Schumacher the race?!

  14. I dont think he’s doing a bad job. i think he will do well in the race tomorrow. 4th position could be possible… and even a podium if a red bull or two break down :)

  15. Folks, let’s not panic. It’s not the end of the world. Joe Saward made a very good point on his blog that they could’ve gone for different setups to make sure they cover all eventualities tomorrow. It seems Nico went for a setup more suited for the wet whereas Michael went for a setup more suited for the dry.

    As Vettel knows painfully well, pole doesn’t score any points – you only score points on Sunday. ;)

  16. I don’t think Michael is doing too badly, although in my opinion today he could of done better.

    He has had three years away from the sport, not to mention the cars and tyres are different. He won’t be as fast as he was when he was in his prime, that’s a fact. It will take him time to get up to speed, he is doing bad at all for only three races back to the sport. Then don’t forget Mercedes are off the pace this year.

    Now I’m not ignoring the fact that Rosberg has out-paced him in most sessions with the same machinery, but it comes down to him not being up to speed.

    The media love a story, whether that be a positive or negative one, but what doesn’t help his situation is that the media has over-hyped his comeback, and when he hasn’t delivered they are quick to criticise him. For example, in Australia, he was racing down the back of the grid for most of the afternoon and finished 10th. Articles I have read which criticise his race forget to omit he suffered damage at the first corner. We didn’t know the extent of the damage therefore I don’t think it is fair we write him off and say he is past it.

    Anyway if I go on it will be a border-line, full-blown rant. hehe

  17. I think the person with the most to be frustrated about regarding talk of Schumacher’s struggles (and I mean generally here, not Keith) is Nico Rosberg. The focus is so heavily on Schumacher not delivering front-running form thus far, very few people seem to be acknowledging that Rosberg is in fact a damned good driver, doing a good job.

    1. Story of Nico’s life, isn’t it? IMO, like Jenson, the only way Nico will ever get noticed is if he becomes champion.

      1. Winning a race would go a long way towards that as well.

    2. I agree with you Andy, but I think there’s good reason people haven’t been raving about Rosberg until now. He’s had some good races, yes, but he’s had poor ones too – he threw away his best chance of a result at Singapore last year, for example.

    3. Also, bear in mind that Rosberg has probably been motivated by Schumacher’s return as his team mate. This is his chance to beat(on level footing) the man widely regarded as the best driver in formula 1, in doing so, he has the chance to prove himself and even “de-throne” the former champion. Rosberg did not have anything to lose and everything to gain, he also has the burning ambition of youth / someone who is still building up to the peak of his career.

      Add to this, the psychological boost of actually beating Schumacher, which is probably having the opposite effect on Schumacher himself.

      I’ll admit that I was never Schumacher’s biggest fan in his glory days. I always considered the team orders and having the car custom built to suit him, skewed his rating as the best driver.

      However, since his return, I have a newfound admiration for the courage he’s shown and his passion for the sport. I don’t think he should be written off at all. Expectations were unrealistic to begin with.

      After taking a break for 3 years, it is bound to take time to get back into the routine / frame of mind to handle the F1 circus, let alone trying to win a race or championship in the same way he used to.

      I hope he’s not deterred by negativity emanating from his critics (elsewhere in the media). His presence, somehow lifts the sport (maybe that’s just me?).

  18. I don’t share the general negativity. To come back to any sport after a three year layoff is quite something.

    Rather than use Lauda as a comparison, how about JV? His first few races for Renault were embarrassing.

    When he subsequently joined Sauber, no one really rated Massa at all – just as no one really knows how good Rosberg is – so there were similar calls for him to give it up. However, it did take JV a very long time to get back up to speed.

    Apparently, Schumi doesn’t like understeer which is a problem with the Merc (and with the new tyres.) Kubica, on the other hand, loves it, which may partly explain the Renault’s unexpected form. But Ross is working on it.

    It’s very early days to write him off.

    1. Totally agree. He’s met my expectations entirely, he’s looked fairly solid so far and if he’d had a bit more luck he’d have more than a handful of points.

      The media, especially of the British variety, tend to overhype and sensationalise everything. It’s quite tiresome really – fortunately, this site for the most part avoids that trend, even tho its a blog.

      I’m waiting to se how he does towards the end of the season.

  19. ThePink Bengal
    3rd April 2010, 20:16

    I don’t think he’s been doing that bad to be honest. We only have two and a half race weekends to go by and in my humble opinion, the Mercedes wasn’t as strong as Ferrari, Red Bull or McLaren in the first two races. Plus, he had a crash in Australia which ruined his race.

    In my opinion he’s doing well with what he has. Sure Rosberg has beaten him more often than not but as many others pointed out, he’s been away for a few years.

    It’s not easy to jump into an f1 car (I assume). That guy who replaced Massa last year…Lookhowbadyouare or whatever his name was, did terribly and he was Ferrari’s test driver.

  20. Wel,I think this is quite unique situation FIA and F1 has produced due to austerity measures, which are absurd in F1:
    imagine a pianist who is allowed to play every two weeks for two days for few hours before a concert, or any other serious professional in these circumstances. And driving a race car requires practicing and training, I guess? I have never seen anything like this anywhere…

    1. Agreed – no testing is one of the dumbest ideas ever. Limited testing yes, but the current situation is silly.

    2. I second that, it is like banning football practice

      1. only that a football practice costs only a ball if you kick it out of the field. in F1 testing costs a whole lot, thats what they are trying to prevent.

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