2011 Belgian GP team review
Mercedes had their best result of the season so far in Spa.
|Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosberg|
|Qualifying time comparison (None)||No time|
Mercedes drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
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.”
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.”
2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- Rate the race result: 2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Leimer’s crash and in the pits at McLaren – fans’ videos from Spa
- 2011 Belgian Grand Prix: complete race review
- Vote for your Belgian GP driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Newey relieved after “scariest race ever”
- McLaren: Button hit by debris in first-lap scare
- Ferrari: Harder tyres still the car’s weakness
- Mercedes: Schumacher climbs 19 places to fifth
- Renault: Petrov buoyed by R31 upgrades
Image © Daimler