Strategy goes awry again for Schumacher (Mercedes race review)

Michael Schumacher Mercedes, Valencia, 2010

Had Mercedes not brought Michael Schumacher into the pits during the safety car he might have enjoyed the seventh-placed finish which went to Kamui Kobayashi.

After the race Ross Brawn said he felt Schumacher’s race had been spoiled by a mis-application of the safety car rules.

However Nico Rosberg salvaged some pride with a point for tenth place.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 15 12
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’39.234 (+0.607) 1’38.627
Race position 15 10
Average race lap 1’46.639 (+0.078) 1’46.561
Laps 57/57 57/57
Pit stops 3 1

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Michael Schumacher

Set about learning the Valencia street track with gusto, the back end of the W01 fishtailing as he headed onto the start/finish straight on his first lap of the track during practice.

But by qualifying he was still six tenths of a second slower than Rosberg and very nearly got knocked out in Q1. He lined up 15th.

Having made a fast start Schumacher went into turn one on the outside of Vitaly Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi. He was crowded out and dropped back behind his team mate, but re-passed him later on the lap as Rosberg went off.

That promoted him to 11th place which became third when the safety car came out and several cars in front of him pitted.

Mercedes chose to pit him on lap 11, at least one lap after most of his rivals had come in. He was 5.7s ahead of Kobayashi at the time. But he was held up at a red light at the pit lane exit and had to wait while all the other runners went past.

As traffic was circulating at reduced speed at the time it’s hard to predict exactly where Schumacher would have come out based on lap times. Adrian Sutil was passing as Schumacher pulled up at the pit lane exit, so we can assume he would have been near Nico H???lkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

So Schumacher’s claims that he missed out on a podium finish are probably some way wide of the mark:

What a race. We would like to have clarification about the safety car situation as the red light on the exit from my first pit stop destroyed a race which otherwise would have offered us very good possibilities.

Our point of view is that as the safety car had passed the pits without having the cars lined up behind it, there should not have been a red light. There was a green light for a moment and then suddenly it went red again. We believe that this was not correct.

Our strategy was right in that context as we took the opportunity which could have given us a finish even close to the podium.
Michael Schumacher

As he’d fallen to the back of the pack anyway, Mercedes decided to bring him in and put the medium tyres on again before the safety car came back in. Later on he came in for another set of super-softs.

Read more: Brawn criticises safety car rules

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

Nico Rosberg

After a poor start Rosberg was one of few drivers to make his pit stop before the safety car. This cost him any chance of gaining places on track.

After finishing 12th on the road he was promoted to tenth by other drivers’ penalties. Like Schumacher, Rosberg was warned during the race to take care of his brakes.

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

2010 European Grand Prix

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20 comments on Strategy goes awry again for Schumacher (Mercedes race review)

  1. Alexi said on 28th June 2010, 17:01

    Even with the crappy strategy, Schumacher pace on the race was better than I expected considering his qualifying times. By the way, I never expected to see Williams ahead Mercedes… if things keep that way, Nico will start regret leaving Williams at all :D

    • Emil said on 28th June 2010, 18:18

      Yes, Michael’s race was ruined and Mercedes gave up racing, but used the opportunity to do some testing and gather data.

      • Dianna said on 28th June 2010, 21:11

        Yes that is correct,he had a few great laps while using the time for testing.He did the same thing for Ferrari and that took a year at least to sort out.This time next year when his current team are pulling away from the pack the critics will be silenced.Michael has nothing to prove to anyone,he has beaten all records of all drivers,past and present.

  2. SchumacherFan said on 28th June 2010, 18:01

    Not bad to be only an average of less than a tenth off Rosberg.Where Schumacher says a Podium finish, I think maybe some exaggeration has gone into that but certainly 5th or 6th would have been a reasonable position.

    • Emil said on 28th June 2010, 18:45

      It’s not important where could Michael have finished on Sunday. He prooved since the start of the season that he did not lost his sense of the car. It’s obvious that his goal now, is to make the car perfect and he does not care of critics. This time is not far away. When this happens, I doubt that this will be Rosberg’s credits.

      • spudw said on 29th June 2010, 15:28

        Except, on the balance, Rosberg has almost comprehensively out-performed him. And the car was better, relative to the rest of the field, before they started messing around with the wheel base to suit Schumi.

  3. Glenn (@glenn) said on 28th June 2010, 18:49

    So What in the world has happened to Brawn/ Mercedes? First they are outpaced by Renault, But now they are outpaced by Force India and Williams? How is responsible for the development of this car? I’d say they are ripe for a change in position.

    Weird too because they looked very promising on Friday as they have the last couple of races, but when the remaining temas put the hammer down, they get left in the dust? Even by Williams? Who seemed like they would be the dogs of the season.

  4. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 28th June 2010, 20:31

    Even though Ross Brawn has denied it, it’s starting to look more and more like they may have already decided to cut their losses on this year and look to developing next year’s car…

  5. Chalky (@chalky) said on 28th June 2010, 21:09

    What shocked me more was not Schumachers performance, but more of the bad strategy decision from Brawn. I understand what they were trying to do. But, they must have lost someone in the strategy decision job this year as it was miscalculated.

    Mercedes have an ok car. It should be doing better than it is. If Schumacher can click with the engineers and get it handling to his liking then we may well see some better results. I mean Rosberg still comes out well in P1 most times and that can’t be a bad car to start working a weekend with, but even he goes backwards from there on.

    F1 is just so competitive now. It only needs 1 error and you’ll drop way back on your potential grid slot. Then a bad start or small off and you’re out of your strategy window and racing with the new guys.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th June 2010, 22:13

      Thing is, they made some poor decisions last year too – Barrichello’s three-stopper at Barcelona springs to mind.

      • Shimks said on 29th June 2010, 8:53

        If I remember correctly, it looked to me like they did that on purpose to make sure Button got the maximum points.

  6. wasiF1 said on 29th June 2010, 3:24

    I don’t blame the safety car the same issue were there in the 2008 Canadian GP so the red light is OK as far as the rules are concern. I think it is the Mercedes team who made the wrong call unlike Kobayashi Schumacher also started on the hard tyres so if he have done the something as Sauber did then he too could have been in the points.It’s a shame for the team who were the WC last year made such a horrible call.

  7. JohnBt said on 29th June 2010, 8:26

    Shumi’s skill and luck is vanishing bit by bit, like a slow torture before the end.

    Big mistake making a comeback.

    • Jean said on 29th June 2010, 12:55

      Sorry to say so but you will eat your words next year

      • Todfod said on 29th June 2010, 13:47

        I really do not think his fans should hype him up for next year. I do not see him winning any races ever again, no matter how quick the car.

        • wasiF1 said on 30th June 2010, 2:45

          Give Schumacher the car like Red Bull & luck like Hamilton then watch him go.

        • You will surely eat your words next year, I agree. He is the smartest guy on the grid. With the right car, hmmmm. You will be tired on watching F1 coz you hate him win. lol,

  8. spudw said on 29th June 2010, 15:25

    Mercedes problems are of their own creation, be it to do with botched strategy around the safety car or their pace in general. I seem to recall Rosberg being substantially on pace in the first few races before they modified the car to suit Schumi.

    Schumi is a dinasaur and should not have returned. Mercedes should have made Button an offer he couldn’t refuse. They’d have saved money, and I’d argue they’d have been closer to the front.

  9. dkfone said on 29th June 2010, 15:42

    Bad as the season is turning out to be for Mercedes, in some ways I think it helps Michael in a way. He clearly isint fully up to speed yet, if the car was red bull beater he could be exposed more. By the time Merc get their act together he should be at his best again. Also of note is that many strategic decisions have been shocking this year from Brawn which I dont understand. He used to run rings around everyone else and Benneton and Ferrari

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