Mercedes: Rosberg beats Ferraris despite fuel worries

2011 Chinese GP team review

A step forward by Mercedes made them the third-fastest team in Shanghai.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 14 4
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’36.457 (+0.607) 1’35.850
Race position 8 5
Laps 56/56 56/56
Pit stops 3 3

Mercedes drivers’ lap times throughout the race:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Michael Schumacher 111.637 106.229 105.643 105.577 105.775 105.449 104.755 105.558 105.197 109.461 120.226 104.006 103.327 103.518 104.352 103.928 105.576 103.487 103.665 103.365 103.256 103.442 104.184 103.691 104.576 108.333 120.509 101.599 103.03 103.897 102.857 102.914 102.341 102.534 101.373 101.639 102.023 103.233 106.676 120.018 102.053 101.488 101.281 101.614 101.269 101.215 101.306 101.304 101.721 102.596 101.471 101.754 101.391 102.015 101.673 102.245
Nico Rosberg 108.84 105.061 104.837 104.501 104.666 104.194 104.276 104.262 104.676 105.316 105.635 108.939 119.877 103.029 103.512 103.347 103.21 103.254 103.013 102.808 102.6 102.949 102.946 102.948 107.627 120.139 101.548 102.26 101.812 101.626 101.615 101.455 101.42 101.472 101.209 101.602 101.922 102.291 106.047 118.543 101.166 103.445 101.297 101.932 103.261 102.611 101.822 101.974 101.999 103.465 101.429 102.052 101.888 104.088 102.569 105.392

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher continued to have problems with his Drag Reduction System – particularly the delay in the flow re-attaching when it moves from open to closed.

Ross Brawn intends to solve the problem with an upgrade at the Turkish Grand Prix but in China it kept Schumacher from progressing beyond Q2.

He lined up ten places behind his team mate but made an excellent start – out-dragging the two Saubers and using the outside line at turn one to gain a total of five places.

An aggressive strategy saw him make his first pit stop on lap ten. He put in a series of fast laps to briefly move up to sixth place, in front of Fernando Alonso.

This was their first of two battles during the race and Alonso got past at turn 14 after eight laps of trying.

Schumacher was passed by Webber later on and his third pit stop allowed Alonso back through again. He ended the race pressuring Alonso, less than half a second behind the Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Shanghai, 2011

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Shanghai, 2011

Nico Rosberg

Rosberg declared himself pleased with the team’s progress after beating both Ferraris in qualifying to take fourth on the grid – his best starting position since the same race last year.

He nearly took third off Sebastian Vettel at the start but was firmly rebuffed. Like his team mate he pitted early, which promoted him to the lead for 14 laps.

Third after his last pit stop, he struggled to defend his position as the team warned him to conserve fuel. Ross Brawn admitted afterwards this cost Rosberg a podium finish:

“We need to look into why we suffered so much higher fuel consumption in the race than we had experienced in practice, even allowing for the changes in conditions and grip. There was clearly a problem and it’s very frustrating for Nico and the team.”

First Lewis Hamilton passed him, then Rosberg ran wide at turn 14 allowing Felipe Massa and Jenson Button through.

Rosberg recovered his place with a smart pass on Massa at turn 16. But Mark Webber soon charged past to demote him back to fifth.

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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41 comments on Mercedes: Rosberg beats Ferraris despite fuel worries

  1. Icemangrins said on 18th April 2011, 16:48

    I have to admit, Schumi put a good show in this grand prix inspite of all the critisism. I read a article written by Bob McKenzie yesterday that Paul Di Resta may replace Schumi if the later’s performance gets worse. Seemed like a cheap shot to market a fellow scott !!

    • snowman said on 18th April 2011, 18:36

      I read that article too and thought was very poor journalism. Didn’t know a fellow Scot wrote it so that’s why! The only reason he gave for Di Resta replacing Schumacher was they have the same Mercedes engine connection and went on to say Rosberg thrashed Shucmacher in qualifying conveniently leaving out the fact the old boy’s DRS failed making his Q2 nearly a second slower than Q1. Di Resta does seem a good talent though.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th April 2011, 6:53

        His DRS failed, not to mention the fact that he was caught out in the traffic jam that ensued after Petrov red-flagged the session and everyone went out at once. I have a feeling both Heidfeld and Schumacher would’ve made Q3, at the expense of the Toro Rossos. Kobayashi would’ve probably given it a good shot as well.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 18th April 2011, 16:50

    Good race by Rosberg, and although Schumacher earned many positions he still couldn’t beat Alonso who was very slow.

    • macca77 said on 18th April 2011, 17:34

      Schumi and Rosberg were both on low fuel comsuption mode on the last laps, thats why MSC couldn’t pass Alonso.

      NORBERT HAUG
      “The speed of our cars today was very good and much better than I expected. Unfortunately both Nico and Michael had higher fuel consumption than expected and both needed to save fuel for many laps. I am sure that otherwise Nico could have finished on the podium and Michael higher in the points…”

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 18th April 2011, 19:09

        Really a shame they got that wrong here. Might have been even more adventurous if not for that.
        Rosberg fighting Vettel for the lead in the last laps and holding off Hamilton for his first win?

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th April 2011, 6:55

          Yeah, a real shame. I was really excited at the prospect of Nico’s first win during the race, and was very disappointed when he got the call to dial the engine down. Up until then I was sure he’d be the one overtaking Vettel for the win.

  3. Eggry (@eggry) said on 18th April 2011, 16:53

    Rosbers is good as always. but Schumacher…well not so bad and gives us some excitement(battle with Alonso, etc) but I’m not sure he would be on podium this year. even if it happend, it would be likely Nico.

  4. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 18th April 2011, 17:03

    Obviously he was in traffic at times, but Schumacher’s pace on the hard tyre isn’t good, considering he had an extra set saved from qualifying.

    • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 18th April 2011, 17:22

      His pace on hards wasn’t good?
      Just look at the final stint times: he was faster than anyone who finished in front of him and was on the same strategy, and on par with Lewis in the overall stint.

      From the first grand prix of this season, it seems to me that the problem with Schumacher right now it’s not pace anymore. Throughout the last two w/e he was able to match Nico’s times in each sector of the track (unlike last year), but in no occasion he was able to get them together when really mattered (just like last year). Of course this is a massive fault.

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 18th April 2011, 17:27

        From the first grand prix of this season, it seems to me that the problem with Schumacher right now it’s not pace anymore.

        He hasn’t made it to Q3 yet. Pace is definitely a concern for MS. Take a look at the charts as well, as he was the only driver this weekend who was significantly slower than his teammate.

        • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 18th April 2011, 17:44

          I’d like to introduce you to Mark Webber.

          You’re saying the same thing i am. Last year chart perfectly reflected performance (who was just not there at all, he was no match on Nico anywhere in the w/e). This year charts, right now, doesn’t as well, but the difference is he matches Nico on pace and that has been seen on last two Sundays where is nowhere near to be “significantly slower”.

      • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 18th April 2011, 17:31

        His pace on hards wasn’t good?

        Sorry, that was a mistake – I meant to say options.

        I think we have to wait a few more weeks to see if Schumacher’s qualifying troubles are real or if the DRS problem really did cost him time

        • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 18th April 2011, 17:50

          Ah, ok, that is right.
          I think his problems with QLF are real despite of the DRS. He failed to improve his time from Q1 to Q2 and get it toghether for Q3 many times last year. This year it looks even worse, so far. We’ll see.

          (BTW, the TV showed Schumacher’s Q2 onboard camera and you could see him outbreak at the hairpin, but has anyone see that moment on front camera and had a look at the DRS?)

  5. Robbie said on 18th April 2011, 17:04

    I was pleasantly surprised to see NR do so well…not because I don’t think he is capable, but I wasn’t expecting his pace to be so formidable throughout the whole race…ie. expected that after some pit stops reality would set in and see NR fall further back than he ended up…but he drove great and too bad he went a little wide near the end to hand over a few spots…

    Anyway, great to see NR best MS again, but I don’t expect to see the Mercs as strong vs. the rest of the field in the next races (I could be wrong but just saying I don’t expect it)…SV won’t likely ‘struggle’ like he did this weekend as they will have learned about strategies from their run as well as LH’s…MW won’t likely be starting 18th on average…the Renaults have shown they can be a factor, even if not this past weekend…

    Merc will get some things sorted out, but so will the other teams, and ultimately I’m just glad that for NR it is as he said last year…any changes they may have made to help MS would help him too…ie. even if MS didn’t have a problem in quali it seems to me obvious by now that he will not be dominating NR and will be lucky to match him at best, at times…

  6. Robbie said on 18th April 2011, 17:11

    Just wanted to add…I’m not the one to look for to compliment MS, but he has been starting very well this year, and more than a few times last year too…it’s time those ahead of him on the grid take note that he starts well, thinks nothing of taking his car from one side of the track to the other, and tends to take an outside line to gain spots going into the first corner…somebody react to that and shut him down please…

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 18th April 2011, 17:18

      Alguersuari tried to shut him down in Australia.

      • Robbie said on 18th April 2011, 17:32

        Ya that was a little different though…contact due to MS going wide around T1 and then cutting across the track to go wide around T2, thus taking an unusual line ahead of another car taking a normal line and committed to his braking is one thing…and I’m not talking about somebody hitting MS nor MS hitting them…I’m talking about somebody simply taking the outside line leading up to T1 such that it is occupied when MS gets there…they all know by now it is his fave thing to do…they shouldn’t at this point get surprised or caught out by that, they should be expecting it from here on in…

        • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 18th April 2011, 19:07

          I’m sure they do know it and they do plan to stop him, but maybe he is just very good at it. He always looks very committed, like he knows exactly what he wants to do, which is all or nothing. Many other drivers don’t look too keen to throw away the car in the first corner and we all know Schumacher is a great bully on track.

  7. Todfod (@todfod) said on 18th April 2011, 17:23

    Overall a great return to form after a disastrous Malaysian GP. Rosberg was pretty damn quick through most of the race, and after looking at the charts, it seems that he was significantly quicker than his superstar teammate for the first 3 stints. If it wasn’t for the fuel saving issue, I think he could have finished in 2nd.

    Although Schumi did decently during the race, a hat trick of Q2 exits in qualifying is really poor. Schumi is kind of lucky that Mercedes will never replace him against his will, as I think Di Resta and Rosberg would make a fine team.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 18th April 2011, 19:15

      Schumacher’s qualifying pace has been bad. Granted, he apparently had problems this weekend, but he screwed up in Malaysia when he had time to improve, and in Austraia, when he lost about half a second in the final sector.

  8. Robbie said on 18th April 2011, 17:40

    Also, MS and his other Q2 buddies was able to start the race with a tire advantage over the top ten runners including NR, who had to start with the same tires as they qualied on, whereas MS/Merc had a choice…hence, perhaps, MS’s good starts so far this year…wonder what would happen if he squeaked into Q3 for a change and had to start on his ‘old tires’ like the top 10 do…

  9. Drkaks said on 18th April 2011, 18:02

    Its surprising why 22 petrolheads cannot think of blocking micheals outside line..sounds very easy to me.
    Or maybe some credit to micheals determined start practices ..or maybe to his clever racecraft to see racing line where he can make up places.

    Fantastic race by micheal.. Well done nico.

  10. David BR said on 18th April 2011, 19:30

    Is it just me or does Schumacher only really try defending with some drivers and not others? This race he seemed keen on blocking Alonso as hard as possible, for example, which he did brilliantly, but Webber just breezed past. Maybe just coincidence. Hmm.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th April 2011, 7:22

      Webber had a much bigger advantage over Schumacher than Alonso did. Alonso was on a 2 stop strategy. Webber was on a 3 stopper, with more fresh tires and the fastest car on the grid. I think that explains it.

      • David BR said on 19th April 2011, 16:13

        Your right Peter, but I just have the impression he tries extra hard against some drivers. If so, no problem of course! Just intrigues me.

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 19th April 2011, 19:29

          Yeah, also noticed that he seems to a fight tooth and nails when Hamilton or Barrichello try to go past. With Vettel he just seems to let him slip past without much of a fight.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th April 2011, 20:36

            He certainly put up a good fight for Vettel at Silverstone last year.

          • Mike said on 20th April 2011, 1:59

            I’ve noticed it, but not with Hamilton so much.

            To be honest I think it’s just Alonso and Rubens, and I can pretty much work out why.
            It was nice to seeing him fighting Alonso to be honest.

            You know, he might not have the pace any more, but his race craft is something else.

  11. zomtec (@zomtec) said on 18th April 2011, 19:52

    blocking the best car on the grid just ruins your tyres.

  12. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 18th April 2011, 20:11

    I loved seeing Schumacher fight with Alonso this weekend, it even felt a wee bit nostalgic. Schumi looked to me more like the the Schumi of old than in any of the other races this season and possibly since his comeback. He was smart, agressive, fast. I hope this trend continues and he can get closer to the front.

    Rosberg leading was simply fantastic, it was so good to see a fresh face at the front of the pack, to see so many drivers leading at different points in the race in fact! Rosberg is my room mates favorite driver so he was going crazy and that made it all the more enjoyable.

    I really hope Mercedes continues this upward trend and Renault bounces back with them. RedBull may still very well run away with the titles, but I think we could have a very close fight on our hands between McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes.

  13. SPA09 said on 18th April 2011, 20:50

    Team told Nico to brake earlier already when he was leading. So i bet they gambled. Half the race was fuel saving and clearly it was like smoke screen. Don´t know the motive but maybe MERCEDES isn´t too happy about their invest. Too bad because i really want them to succeed. Anyways atleast it was fun while it lasted.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 18th April 2011, 21:41

    A good, solid weekend for Mercedes. By no means where I think they should be (higher) but nevertheless it’s their best so far I think and it’s a step in the right direction.

    Brilliant from Rosberg. Really hopeful of a podium but not to be :(

    • Harry Palmer said on 18th April 2011, 22:48

      It’s a shame they can’t get everything working at the same time as there is a really quick car in there somewhere… The recurring DRS issues have hampered both drivers to varying degrees in Quali, overheating issues at Malaysia and the fuel consumption in China all prevented them getting the best out of the package in the race.

      Schumi’s pace and racecraft in the last two races has been good. Nico was a little slow in Malaysia but drove an excellent race yesterday. I just hope they can get everything working in Turkey and the upgraded DRS works consistently enough give both drivers a chance to start the race towards the front of the grid.

  15. MattHT (@mattht) said on 18th April 2011, 22:34

    Was for a short while very excited by Rosberg in P1, but a good result nevertheless. I actually think Schumacher would have been up there with him but for his DRS failure, he has shown some strong form this season on race day after some abject failures in qualifying. They’ll both the get the good result they deserve before long.

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