Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011

Brawn tips Schumacher to “surprise a few people”

F1 videoPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has tipped Michael Schumacher to pull off a surprise in 2011.

Brawn said: “I think Michael can surprise a few people this year because he’s had a much better preparation.

“He’s now worked with the team for a year, knows all the engineering staff, knows how the team works and he’s had a good winter test.

“I think the experience that perhaps some of the other drivers had with tyres and other things has changed now with different tyres. So I’m quietly confident Michael’s going to make a big impression this year.”

He added: “I think the strengths of Michael are his commitment and determination. Obviously behind that has to be the skill and talent. But his commitment and determination is unchanged from when he won his world championships – in fact, maybe even more determined.”

Brawn also said Nico Rosberg is ready to score his first Grand Prix win:

“Nico came very close to winning a race last year. We were in a much better position in the beginning of the year and we picked up at the end of the year. But certainly at the beginning of the year there was an opportunity for Nico to win a race and I think this year he can win a race.

“I think we need to cross that boundary with Nico, get his first race win behind him, and then I think you’ll see Nico open up an awful lot. I’m very optimistic about the potential of Nico in the future. He’s shown great skill in the past year, he works very well with the team and like Michael is very committed and dedicated.”

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2011

Mercedes appeared to make a step forward in the final pre-season test. Brawn explained their approach to testing and developing the W02:

“We’re running KERS this year which for our team – our chassis team – is a first. We’ve never run KERS before, we don’t have any experience with KERS. And of course we’ve got the tyre situation.

“So it was very important that we had a car running at the first test in a representative form. You can’t put KERS on your old car, you have to design a car around KERS.

“So we wanted to get the car out running, we froze the aerodynamic specification early last year and we got that bodywork made, put it on the car and went out. We gave the aerodynamicists and the other designers the longest time possible to try and get the best out of these regulations. Because of the regulation changes, we wanted to get the most out of it.

“One area of great interest was using the exhaust gas in the most beneficial way. We’ve seen a lot of cars now with exhaust pipes in very interesting places. That was an area which we wanted to do a lot of work on before we made our decision.

“So it was to give us early running, make sure we got KERS sorted, make sure we understood the tyres, got the basics done and then come for the last with a major aerodynamic upgrade, with all those other issues hopefully sorted.

“I think we’ve gone a long way in those areas. KERS we now understand. Reliability, we did two race distances at the last test. We’re know understanding what the tyres are sensitive to. So we’ve done all the ground work and now we need to put the icing on the cake and really start to get the performance.”

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67 comments on “Brawn tips Schumacher to “surprise a few people””

  1. Michael’s going to make a big impression this year.

    Hopefully a more positive one than the big impression he almost made of a Williams in the Hungaroring pit wall last year.

    1. Oh come on, it’s racing like that which F1 has missed. Besides it worked both ways in that incident, Barrichello chose the wrong side to overtake in my opinion.

      Anyway Schumacher will, if the car is good enough get a fair few podium finishes this season, starting race win at Melbourne this weekend.

      1. Amen to that!

        1. I agree RIISE and RU70 100%. It’s the kind of racing we want? Do you like boring race? or you are just Schumi haters? :)

      2. paul sainsbury
        22nd March 2011, 16:33

        Don’t be ridiculous. Trying to drive another competitor into a wall is not ‘racing’.

        1. I still wonder what in the world tells everyone that Barrichello HAD to go by at that place at the side of the wall. Its like everyone thinks he HAD to overtake him because people were keeping Rubens family hostage and told him he HAD to overtake him there. Also the footage shows that Schumacher doesn’t even look ahead, he constantly looks at Barrichellos car and the white line (crossing the white line means leaving the track in regular circumstances).
          I don’t say it wasn’t dangerous, I’m just saying Barrichello knew Schumacher better than anyone in F1 and still he decided to go by like that.

          And after all, I really missed the controversies about Schumacher. Wherever he goes, there are so many people who dislike him and he is always going to every limit he can find, its fantastic :-D Thats an element of F1 that was clearly missing when he wasn’t there. (F1 needs its ‘villains’)

          1. He didn’t have too, but who held a gun at Schumacher’s head and told him to push Barrichello into the wall?

          2. Let me disagree with you, he HAD to pass, because he’s a racing driver and that’s what they do.

            He was faster and he went for what would have been a clean pass on one of the hardest tracks of the calendar, if it wasn’t for Shumacher’s move.

          3. On the flip side, Schumacher wanted to defend his position which is also what racing drivers do.

        2. Schumacher moved across the track to defend his position. It just so happened that Barrichello forced his way through at that point. Schumacher moved back towards the middle of the track once he saw Barrichello was alongside.

          1. exactly. in terms of the letter of the law. it was 100% legal.

            was it a bit OTT. probably for todays era yea. but montoya and schumi did worse to each other and that was only 6 years ago.

          2. If there wasn’t a wall there people wouldn’t be kicking up as much a fuss.

          3. That sounds reasonable, but is just not true. The footage show Schumacher pushed towards the pitwall after seeing Rubens trying the inside and only stopped when it was the pitwall at hairwide distance.

        3. it wasn’t on purpose. so I call that exciting racing!

          1. Yes that’s what F1 is all about. Fantastic racing with Schumi around..

        4. I would agree if you’d say that it was certainly way too hard and dangerous, but I still have the feeling, that if a certain Ayrton Senna would have done that and later explained to people how racing is hard, then we would be able to see that and people might shed a tear for how awesome racing was back in the 80’s.

          1. He did do something similar, to Prost in 1988 and the YouTube videos are full of apologists for him.

          2. Senna would of complained about it. Just like he did about Mansells aggressive over taking moves on many an occasion. Although you are correct he was ruthless himself.

          3. Amen!

        5. He didn’t try. If he tried, he would have succeeded. He gave him just enough space to make it through. It was balls out driving from both drivers. I loved every second of it, and I hated Schumacher afterwards, then I loved him for given me the best and most authentic moment of the year.

        6. @paul sainsbury – it was a racing incident. Move on. Who would you rather have in F1 anyway. Schumacher or Barrichello?

          Who adds more?

          And don’t say Barrichello, because he’s such a ‘nice guy’.

        7. hahaha thats funny, because trying to keep going for the inside line when it is obvious the car in front is defending it & will move all the way across is pretty stupid too, its much easier to just drive around the outside of them instead…..Unless you are an angry little Brazilian looking to prove a messed up point that you can be not intimidated by the great MS????

      3. I agree with your first point RIISE, although I highly doubt he’ll win this weekend unfortunately.

      4. Coefficient
        23rd March 2011, 8:58

        How so? He got through.

    2. Red Andy got Rubens syndrome ;)

    3. I think we’ve already done this one to death:

      A move too far: Schumacher forces stewards to take a stand

      1. In my defence it was a throwaway comment more than anything.

        But there is a serious point. Clearly not everyone agrees with me; but I think this year is a good opportunity for Schumacher to clean up his act as well as find a bit of pace. Like last year perhaps should have been. We’ll see anyway.

        1. Fully agree with that, Schu can show himself to the world as a hard, cunning, but fair racer this year and polish up his image.

          1. Honestly, I just cannot see that happening. Throughout his career he has done everything within, and beyond, the rules to win. All his antics are a part of ‘winning at all costs’ attitude. I cannot see him abandoning his racing spirit just to clean up his image. Schumi doesn’t give a **** anyways.

          2. @Todfol: Do you like boring race? Or you’re a simply schumi hater. lol. :)

        2. Yeah I would have thought that if MS was ever going to clean up his act it would have been last year…3 year layoff, new team, fresh new start etc etc…but instead he proved to be the same old same old unethical boor, and not just with the RB incident in Hungary either. He has proved to do this behaviour whether he is in a good car or whether it is one he is struggling with. I don’t look for any changes in this regard from MS. What I hope for but don’t expect is that by now the FIA has had enough and continues to actually penalize him for his poor and dangerous behaviour. And at that, the penalties may not even mean much and nothing has ever dissuaded him from what we now know is just the way he is, behaving as though he has his own rulebook, which in his Ferrari days he pretty much had.

  2. Hard to fault Brawn’s judgment. One of the best rookies last year, for sure.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      22nd March 2011, 17:46

      HAHAHA, touche.

  3. Please Ross, don’t be blowing smoke.. We already know your drivers have the talent, but what about your engineers.

    I’m really hoping Mclaren, Renault and especially Mercedes can keep up with the Ferrari’s and Redbulls this year. And I know Williams might be a little off pace because of their decision to axe Hulkenberg for cash, but they look to have a package with potential. Hopefully Pastor Maldonado isn’t as slow as I’m expecting.

    1. Perhaps their decision to axe the Hulk is what will make them competitive this year,
      Now they may have the funds to develop the car properly.

  4. The way in which Mercedes undertook testing is very innovative, building the new car, but putting old parts on it (opposite of McLaren) and then waiting to see what different things people brought to the table, and get the designers to hijack all the best ideas, and then release the full version as late as possible. This enabled them to test the reliability of the major components of the car, have a direct comparison of this years and last years tyre data, lull other teams and press into thinking they are struggling, and finally being the first team to incorporate different ideas into one package. I expect them to be the 3rd best team behind RBR and Ferrari, with McLaren behind all 3, and only on a par with Renault and Williams

    1. Not to say that you are completely wrong, but it doesn’t really work that way. You can not simply bolt on parts you’ve seen other people use. Especially not if they’re major components like the exhaust, or the front wing.

  5. MacademiaNut
    22nd March 2011, 17:30

    I for one would like to see Schumi give a serious challenge to Ferrari & Alonso. It will make the sport really good. I think Mercedes will be the dark horse this season.

  6. Weasel Chops
    22nd March 2011, 17:45

    Regarding the headline for this story it’s a case of “Well he would wouldn’t he.”

    Saying that, I really hope Schumi does well this season and would be nice to see him get a win. Especially after suffering all the flak last season when he failed to meet media expectations that really were unrealistically high.

  7. From the heading “Brawn tips Schumacher to “surprise a few people”” – I will be surprised if he doesnt win a few races this year. Hopefully MS wouldnt surprise me!

  8. bit of a strange comment by Brawn. He’s probably pretty fed up with having to defend schumacher though

  9. SennaNmbr1 (@)
    22nd March 2011, 20:52

    Ross looks like he’s cupping an invisible pair of breasts.

    1. Hello palm, meet face.

  10. Given what Brawn said about about the relationship with the High Performance Engines division it really does bring home just how good a position they in. I really hope they can capitalise on it this year.

  11. JamieFranklinF1
    22nd March 2011, 22:10

    I personally think that Mercedes may have done a very good job. Their performance last year was lack luster to say the least, but they may just be bringing the goods for another step forward.

  12. well he certainly surprised people last year, long may rosberg prevail!

  13. People are writing a 7 time world champion off? Foolish! Personally I’m backing him to work his way up! That’s what he does… incremental attrition.

  14. TheGreatCornholio
    23rd March 2011, 0:52

    The utter domination of Schumacher and Ferrari drove me away from F1 for several years and i didn’t return until 2007 thanks to his retirement, Lewis’s debut and my young son’s interest. I wanted him to have a competitive car last year so he’d have no excuses when he got beaten by the young guns, BUT i found myself actually enjoying seeing him back and i’ve gained loads of respect for the positive way he handled a tough year! It’d be great to see him with a car worthy of his talents just to see if he’s still got it. Gonna be a cracking season:)

    1. Absolutely my point of view as well.

      I feel it may have something to do with the years of torture watching him win and denying to myself he wasn’t the best driver ever to grace a formula one track, and finding as many excuses as possible to show how he lucked in to winning, and it was more the efforts of the others in his team.

      All that effort, hatred, depression, boredom, sadness, pride crushing experience.. now has come back to count for something. I feel innately bound to support him while he hasn’t been fully tested out and given enough time to prove himself.

      I also found the MS and RB move last year, my personal classic highlight of the season.

      1. TheGreatCornholio
        23rd March 2011, 2:20

        It was a real flash of the old Schumi but i missed it as i was doing 3mph on a narrowboat holiday! Good thing really as i’d probably have thrown something at the tv. I think another reason i held a grudge against him is that i was always a massive Martin Brundle (imo the best driver to have never won an F1 race)fan and i remember hearing that he was moved on from Benetton as schumacher felt he was too quick! I’m convinced Brundle could’ve had a a more successful career if he’d been able to stay there another season

        1. Brundle = too quick ?? LOL!!!

          Maybe he could have had a more successful career is he was any good. Schumacher mopped the track with poor old Martin many times.

          1. TheGreatCornholio
            23rd March 2011, 4:47

            Tequilatim, sounds like you’ve been drinking the stuff but maybe i should’ve been clearer. Brundle was close enough in pace to schumacher at that stage of his career for him to not want him in the team, i wasn’t saying he was actually quicker just too close for comfort.Even drivers of the standard of Alonso or Schumacher aren’t keen on having a competitve team mate as it diverts team resources away from them not forgetting the huge egos they have. As for your other comments about Brundle not being any good i would go so far as to state that you have a serious lack of knowledge regarding the subject and suggest you do a bit of reading in your spare time and you’ll find testimony from people who know what they’re talking about. Had he got the Williams drive instead of Damon Hill he’d have been a world champion and multiple race winner. The only year he got into a big team with proper funding and resources was McLaren in 95 or 96 when they had the then new Peugeot V10 and that was nothing more than a reciprocating hand grenade!

  15. From the interview it seems like Brawn & the team have all the puzzle now they need to put everything together to have a result.

  16. I really that Schumacher is a dark horse for this season.

    You can see by his body language in interviews and when talking about the car that he has that quiet air of confidence back that he had during his peak years.

    I have never been much of a Schumacher fan, but I must admit that having him on the grid in what seems to be a pretty competitive package will make this season even more intriguing.

    I don’t think he’ll be WDC, but I think he’ll be right in the mix.

    If the Australian GP is wet, I can see him winning it.

  17. I’m not hidding that I’m a Schumacher fan. However, what he did to Barichello last year was unbelievable. He should have been simply suspended for the rest of the season.
    What he can do this season? As hazard will play a big role this year, Schumacher may end as vice champion or even in a worse position that in 2010. He recovered much of the shape he had in the past and Mercedes seems to be in good shape, so who knows.

    1. Yawn, not even a crash & Barichello got to make the move…. Whats the problem?

  18. I find Brawn’s comment about MS a bit laughable, and at the same time I am glad he doesn’t ignore NR, and states that he could win a race and once he does we will see him open up…

    Why is Brawn’s comment about MS laughable? Because last year he was going to be WDC for 2010 according to Brawn…and because as a 7 time WDC the surprise came last year when he fell flat on his face, the opposite of being 2010 WDC.

    I must admit I was surprised when we saw MS make that brutal move on RB… why surprised?… I shouldn’t have been because that was vintage MS, but I guess I just thought that since he was struggling with the car, struggling to compete, needing to catch up after a 3 year layoff, he would be a little more humble…but no…he was still the same unethical boor on the track…he may kill somebody yet before he is done in F1, especially if this year’s car is something he can fight with a little more than last year.

    I think this year will be another year that will show that when MS doesn’t have everything on the team being about him, including a subservient teammate, he will just be another racer out there, and without a dominant package he is screwed…he will not be starting on the front of the grid most races if not all, and that will leave him in traffic and therefore rattled and he will make mistakes and be brutal to other cars/drivers…his only hope is that with the tire degradation causing more pitstops, Brawn might be able to work some strategy magic for him such that he may gain some spots here and there through pitting, not passing on the track, just like was the reason for much of his ‘success’ at Ferrari…

    1. Without a dominant package he is screwed? Yes, his car was so dominant for the 16 races he won in 1996-1999. Or why he won the 1995 title with the second best car.

      And doubting his ability to make on track passes in his years at Ferrari? That’s a laugh.

      1. He won the 94 title by whacking DH, the 95 title in an illegal car, and from 96 to 99 he did not win a WDC…his next WDC’s came in dominant cars designed for him with no regard for his teammate, on designer tires, on the most established team in F1 that got an extra 100 mill from the FIA just because they were Ferrari, plus a heads up before any other team on any rule changes, plus veto power on said rule changes, and for many of his wins the dominant position the Ferrari and the FIA put him in with advantages hand over fist over any other driver in the history of F1, let alone the drivers he was competing against, ensured that for the most part he was up front with little passing to do, and much of the passing he did was through the pitting strategies of Brawn…

        I didn’t say I doubted his ability to make on track passes, just that for most of his numbers compilation years that aspect was taken out of his hands with rule changes that benefitted him and Ferrari to compile said numbers…and coming back to this year, his car doesn’t sound like it will be dominant, but due to the degrading tires requiring all drivers to make more stops than last year, that might be MS’s only hope of passing cars…when he does have to pass cars, he often does it by moving people off the track, if not connecting with them…

        The MS/Ferrari era only proved what a driver can do given all the advantages he had over the rest of the field including a contracted bootlicking non-competing teammate to not have to worry about, with the FIA’s blessing and a blind eye to his unethical on track antics, such that anything but domination would be a surprise.

        1. He won the 94 title by whacking DH, the 95 title in an illegal car, and from 96 to 99 he did not win a WDC

          The Benetton B195 was not illegal. There were rumours over the 1994 car being illegal, but in 1995, he simply was the best driver (by far). Hill really shouldn’t have been in title contention in 1994, with the 4 penalties MSC received. In 1996-99, MS didn’t win a title, but challenged in two of those years, and got injured in one of the others he was challenging for.

          his next WDC’s came in dominant cars designed for him with no regard for his teammate

          The only years in which he had a dominant car were 2002 and 2004, but can that really be used against him? After all, he fully utilised that machinery to deliver the titles they deserved. Ferrari backed Schumacher for the car design simply because he was better, not just as a racer and a leader, but at providing feedback for the engineers.

          a heads up before any other team on any rule changes, plus veto power on said rule changes

          Ferrari never used the veto they were given, so it didn’t actually provide much of an advantage. The rule changes in 2003 and 2005 were introduced not to benefit Schumacher and Ferrari, but rather the opposite, to improve the show by helping the other teams get closer.

          when he does have to pass cars, he often does it by moving people off the track, if not connecting with them…

          Most of the collisions in his career actually come from Schumacher having to defend, not when he has to overtake. When Schumacher needs to pass, he usually gets it done, and cleanly.

          You’ve just completely exaggerated the supposed FIA-bias and occasional collision and undermined the hard work from MSC and the engineers need to turn the donkey into a true prancing horse.

          1. I think you have completely understated what really went on at Benetton and Ferrari…in order based on your response, the B195 was highly suspected of still using traction control after it had been made illegal…you acknowledge MS had 4 penalties, therefore DH shouldn’t have even been in contention so a)MS/Benetton did some penalty-worthy things and b)you ignore the fact that indeed MS whacked DH for the title. Among other things, they were caught having removed a valve in the fuel refiller that made their pitstops 1.5 sec faster than everyone elses.

            Extensive articles were written at the time, major pressure was put on by the media who wanted answers, and as a result the FIA thought it was best post-Senna to move MS away from the mess they had created at Benetton and go to Ferrari where there had been a WDC drought, and start a new chapter with a newly created icon in the name of MS…mega unprecedented money and a contracted subservient teammate to not have to worry about, which gave them the green flag to immediately start building the car with only MS in mind…behaviour up to then unprecedented in it’s extremity…

            Crap I’m running out of time here, and I could write a book on my opinions, right or wrong, on this topic…suffice it to say it’s not about what specific years his Ferrari was totally dominant…it is about the FIA backing the Ferrari deal that put MS in a class of his own with advantages hand over fist more than any other driver in the history of F1, let alone against the group he raced against…

            It’s not about MS being a team leader…it’s about a team and a governing body that threw so much money and reassurances at him of not having a teammate to worry about, of meaningless penalties for his indescretions that were meant to not harm his WDC chances in order to end the Ferrari WDC drought and create a new icon and a new chapter post Senna era…

            To say most of his collisions come from having to defend, ignores that in fact he was in front to begin with thanks to all his advantages including a teammate contracted not to compete, which to me is extremely dishonourable and sells out, takes the easy way out, ensures much less friction toward a WDC but is not sporting and ruins the show for the paying audience who should not be happy seeing a WDC there because one of his competitors was actually his helper…

            And then you seem to want to sweep under the carpet the unprecedented number of controversial incidents from one driver throughout a career.

            Gotta go…I’ve got more to say, but I also know it’s been done to death.

          2. No, the 1995 car was not an illegal car. Check anywhere, and you’ll find that it was the 1994 car that was suspected of being illegal. You’re simply throwing around slanderous accusations now.

            How on earth was it the FIA who moved Schumacher to Ferrari? Everyone knows, and acknowledges that Schumacher could have continued winning titles at Benetton, but instead, partly thanks to the amount he would be paid, took on the challenge of winning for Ferrari. 1994 was a mess, I’ll give you that- but only someone blinded by hatred wouldn’t give Schuamcher the credit he deserved for his superlative performances in 1995. B195 illegal? No, just you making stuff up to create an argument.

            Let’s face it, Schumacher is undoubtedly one of the finest drivers ever to have lived, and you have an addiction to finding petty excuses not to appreciate it.

            It’s not me sweeping controversial incidents under the carpet. At no point did I claim he was not to blame for the Adelaide or Jerez incidents, at no point did I say he’s perfect and has no flaws, it’s you saying stupid things like “he may kill somebody yet before he is done in F1”.

          3. @Robbie Your personal bias against Schumacher really devalue your comment.

            Schumacher’ hard work, determination, high level of commitment, raw speed his brilliant approach to race strategy, his fitness, intelligent feedback to his engineer are among the fundamentals of his success.
            FIA move MSC away???? Yes please go write a book about your fantasy, it’s good for you, good luck.

    2. Jeffrey Powell
      23rd March 2011, 18:40

      I have never been a great fan of MS but I think thats a bit strong, there is no doubt that in his first few years he proved himself extremely quick, his ‘dangerous’ driving is what most multiple world champions have been accused of at times. There is a fine line between ‘forcefull’ and ‘dangerous’ and in his long career he has no doubt been guilty of the latter on a number of occasions. But without mentioning any names there are quite a few drivers racing today that have tried some crazy moves. I think the real problem was that it looked vindictive and desperate and certainly proved the old adage that ‘a leopard etc’.

  19. Schu’s move on Rubens last year was fairly punished, but the punishment for overtaking after green flags and Safety car away in Monaco wasn’t fair and I hope he and Nico are able to mix in the top of the fight this year. The Brawn car of 2009 showed us again that the car is the most important part of being able to win. And this also goes for a 7 times WDC.
    Very competitive people always test the limits of the rules both driving on track, designing the car, spying on the competition and so on. Those who hold back only for moral reasons or just assuming it isn’t allowed have less chance of winning. You see the same tendency in all aspects of society: Politicians, commercials, You name it.

    1. You are right that usually the WDC winner had the WCC winning car…and you are right that competitive people test the limits, even the moral limits…however, when the very governing body skews things toward one driver and one team amongst a field of many, that changes the equation…no longer is it apples to apples amongst the competitors…

      1. The governing body also skewed things for the 2005 season. So I’ll call it apples to apples.

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