Brawn tips Schumacher to “surprise a few people”

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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. mef said on 23rd March 2011, 2:27

    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.

  2. Daniel said on 23rd March 2011, 6:51

    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.

  3. Robbie said on 23rd March 2011, 13:30

    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…

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 23rd March 2011, 18:39

      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.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 24th March 2011, 14:39

        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.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th March 2011, 17:50

          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.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 25th March 2011, 16:00

            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.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th March 2011, 16:55

            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″.

          • Dave7 said on 25th March 2011, 18:36

            @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.

    • Jeffrey Powell said on 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’.

  4. Palle said on 23rd March 2011, 21:03

    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.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 24th March 2011, 14:46

      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…

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