Schumacher fails to shine in rain

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:

Schumacher

1’51.717
1’51.827
1’52.479

Rosberg

1’56.151
1’50.673
1’51.448

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

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122 comments on Schumacher fails to shine in rain

  1. rmstrong said on 3rd April 2010, 17:19

    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.

  2. John Edwards said on 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.

  3. John Edwards said on 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?!

  4. Brawn said on 3rd April 2010, 17:43

    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 :)

  5. 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. ;)

  6. Steve said on 3rd April 2010, 17:55

    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

  7. Andy C said on 3rd April 2010, 17:56

    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.

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 18:39

      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.

    • 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?).

  8. 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.

    • DASMAN said on 3rd April 2010, 20:20

      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.

  9. ThePink Bengal said on 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.

  10. ivan said on 3rd April 2010, 20:17

    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…

  11. Oh ye of little faith…

  12. ivan said on 3rd April 2010, 20:33

    And, may I add, Michael is now like a pianist in comeback after long absence – now what if they (musicians)had a rule – welcome back, but you get a piano every two weeks for 2-3 days, 2-3 hours…

  13. James Alias said on 3rd April 2010, 21:15

    I think Schumacher is quite fast, at this moment faster than Rosberg already.

    It just doesn’t show in the final results yet, down to one nagging annoyance after the other. Bahrain was the only race where conditions remained constant for both drivers, the other two races till now just had TOO MANY variables that affected the final outcome.

    Think about this, – four months ago Schumacher raced in some kart race in Las Vegas and finished 7th. The drivers who finished 1st till 6th were,

    Bas Lammers
    Norman Nato
    Jeremy Iglesias
    Arnuad Kozlinski
    Marco Ardigo
    Tony Lavanant

    My challenge is, put any of these drivers in an F1 car right now. I would love to see how they perform!

    I don’t believe that Schumacher has anything to lose in this comeback. In fact, it just goes on to highlight how immensely superb he was when he was in his prime, that even now after having switched off for so many years he’s still ONLY one-tenth slower than Rosberg, probably in ‘human’ sense which probably means just a little less urge to throw the car around like a mad man through a corner compared to before.

    But doesn’t mean that he can’t do it, sure he can and will do (in due time). I just don’t believe that he’s gonna do it just for the sheer excitement of the fans, nor just in order to make the front page headline and awe the world. He’s smarter than that, just taking his sweet own time. Slow, steady and mature.

    And it makes sense, whatever he’s doing. Imagine this, he had the banker lap from Q2 which really saved his life as in still hung him on to P10. So why wouldn’t he be enthusiastic to do another banker early for Q3? He did push hard on lap one, in fact he was so fast that he caught up Kubica and got stuck behind him. In the end his lap one lap-time only mirrored that of Kubica.

    He hasn’t even made even one single driver-error type mistake on track ever since his return. Alonso, Massa, Button, Rosberg have all spun or gone off track in miserable conditions but this old guy is keeping still it clean. One might argue that the old guy isn’t pushing hard enough, true. But wouldn’t you normally expect an old guy to make so much more mistakes when performing at this level in this young man’s sport?

  14. Wateva said on 3rd April 2010, 21:27

    Keith, you are a sensible man, so what according to you would be a successful season for Schumacher? Considering, he is old, no driving for 3 years, and the current band of drivers are some of the best competition Schumacher ever had.

    • Patrickl said on 3rd April 2010, 22:45

      Didn’t Keith predict Schumacher to become WDC this year?

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 22:50

        I did! Not looking so good is it?

        The 2010 season in 20 questions

        I expect last year’s constructors’ champions will have the best car again this year, and the man who’s won more titles than anyone else will win another.

        You know, it would be so easy to go back and edit that…

        …I won’t, though!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 22:56

      The first thing I’d expect him to do is beat his team mate.

      And I certainly didn’t expect him to have a problem doing that in the sort of conditions where he’s traditional excellent. Look at the weather in the last race he won, for example.

      • HG (@hg) said on 4th April 2010, 2:19

        so, you expect him to besat his team mate? fair enough, so do i. But when? FP1 of Bahrain, after being out for three years??. Some people were, but i think that is totally unrealistic. Is qualifying of race three realistic? Probably not either to be fair. Niki said it would take while, and i tend to agree with that. I think we should expect him to be up to speed by the half way, 75% mark of the season.

  15. Lore said on 3rd April 2010, 23:06

    poor schumacher. its good that hes back i reckon, but i dont think hes gonna set the world alight, its not good or bad, but i dont think its what he would want…

    i dont think it will tarnish his reputation either, its good for everyone. i doubt hell beat rosberg, and i dont think its in mercedes interests for anything to dent rosbergs confidence either.

    so looks like they have a high profile german driver who will help them enormously with car development and also teach rosberg a thing or two…

    i never really liked schumacher or his approach though at times he did some azmazing things in a F1 car. i think the biggest thing now thats gonna show him up is that hes not the undisputed number 1 for the first time in his career.

    if i were him i wouldnt want to be in the role hes found himself, nothing about his character would make me think he would want it either, but hes there gonna be interesting to see how he deals with being beat all the time…

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