Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Mercedes: Schumacher climbs 19 places to fifth

2011 Belgian GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mercedes had their best result of the season so far in Spa.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 24 5
Qualifying time comparison (None) No time
Race position 5 6
Laps 44/44 44/44
Pit stops 3 2

Mercedes drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):

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
Michael Schumacher 128.39 118.669 117.961 120.908 127.857 115.502 115.468 115.163 115.455 115.974 117.569 116.292 134.369 155.767 170.986 167.727 115.924 115.005 114.736 114.398 114.743 114.556 114.436 115.048 114.19 114.868 114.721 114.726 114.916 115.37 118.083 126.974 111.509 111.137 111.748 111.759 112.026 112.298 112.518 112.027 113.115 112.332 112.592 112.545
Nico Rosberg 119.687 117.378 117.652 116.624 116.963 116.966 117.906 117.586 117.076 118.029 120.827 131.377 129.54 152.829 172.647 169.382 115.017 114.476 114.108 114.32 114.46 114.302 114.235 114.332 115.073 115.722 114.997 114.988 115.364 118.645 127.181 112.456 112.279 112.308 112.566 112.409 112.44 112.426 112.263 112.374 113.477 113.48 112.677 112.723
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher started his 20th anniversary race weekend by going fastest in first practice. But qualifying was ruined when a cross-threaded wheel nut caused the car to shed its right-rear wheel at Malmedy. Schumacher was helpless to avoid a crash which left him last on the grid.

He dodged the first-corner crash at the start and picked off the two Virgins on the Keemel straight to end the first lap in 15th place.

He passed Paul di Resta at Les Combes on lap two, avoiding a penalty despite cutting the corner as he went around the outside of the Force India.

Three laps later he pitted to discard the medium tyres he had started on and run the rest of the race on softs. He came out in front of Jenson Button, and after both took advantage of the safety car to pit again, they climbed through the pack into the points.

Button took Schumacher on lap 21 but the Mercedes driver continued to make progress. He demoted Adrian Sutil on lap 34 and the caught his team mate, who he passed to finish in a remarkable fifth place.

Schumacher felt that was the limit of what the car could do on the day: “I think more than fifth place would not have been possible today but making up 19 places was a good feeling.”

Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

Nico Rosberg

Rosberg took fifth on the grid, flying through first sector quicker than anyone else.

He made an exceptional start to take second, then used the Mercedes’ excellent straight line speed to take the lead off Sebastian Vettel at Les Combes.

But when DRS was activated on lap three Vettel came past Rosberg again for the lead. Vettel pitted three laps later but Rosberg lost out to a pair of DRS-powered overtakes from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg slipped behind Massa during the safety car period but immediately passed the Ferrari at the restart. Ten laps later he surrendered fourth place to Button.

Running a conventional strategy, Rosberg used the medium tyres for the last stint, but that left him vulnerable to his recovering team mate. He held Schumacher off for a few laps, but was also being told to save fuel, which the team later insisted was not a coded team order to let Schumacher past.

Schumacher took Rosberg with two laps to go, leaving him sixth. Ross Brawn said afterwards: “Towards the end, we told him to trim his fuel: although we had a Safety Car period, one doesn’t use this to save fuel under the current rules because any fuel saved is simply extra weight carried through the rest of the race, and at that point his fuel consumption was on target.

“In any case, it didn’t cost him a significant amount of lap time, and the decisive factor was that Michael was on the soft tyre at the end while Nico was on the medium, which was around a second a lap slower.”

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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