2011 Italian GP team review
Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton fought hard but the Mercedes driver had to settle for fifth.
|Michael Schumacher||Nico Rosberg|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’23.777 (-0.7)||1’24.477|
Mercedes drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
|Pit stop 1||Soft 22.709s|
|Pit stop 2||Medium 22.014s|
Schumacher made another of his flying starts, this time moving up from eighth to fourth. In the last five races, he’s gained a remarkable 22 places on the first lap alone.
He pounced on Hamilton at the restart, claiming third position, and even briefly had a look at Fernando Alonso for second.
This began possibly the best battle of the season between two drivers. It took the McLaren driver 23 laps to make a pass stick as Schumacher used the Mercedes’ straight line speed to his advantage.
At one point Hamilton got ahead at the Rettifilio but Schumacher neatly reversed the move with a pass at the della Roggia.
On lap 16 Jenson Button appeared in Schumacher’s mirrors in place of Hamilton. Button quickly passed the Mercedes, saving his KERS to attack as Schumacher began to struggle with rear tyre wear.
Schumacher made his pit stop and stayed ahead of Hamilton, but he was now having to defend ever more vigilantly against the McLaren driver.
His defensive tactics were cause for some debate after the race. But looking at the footage again it’s clear he adhered to the ‘one move’ rule, which has always allowed drivers to move off the racing line to defend and then back towards the line afterwards.
Ross Brawn was heard twice telling Schumacher not to squeeze Hamilton when returning to his racing line. Shortly after the second warning, Hamilton finally made it through on the way into Ascari.
Brawn said afterwards he had been talking to Schumacher on the radio at the time and he hadn’t got a gear change right. When Hamilton passed him, he was much further alongside Schumacher in the braking zone than he had been previously.
From that point he Schumacher was secure in fifth place – Felipe Massa took only a second or two out of him over the final stint.
“The fighting against Lewis was big fun, and my mirrors seemed to be very small at times,” said Schumacher.
“We are both known for driving on the limit, and that is what we did. I had to make my car as wide as a truck, and had to stretch the possible as much as I could, but in the end, as expected, he was still faster.”
A KERS problem for Rosberg in second practice meant he didn’t get to do a low-fuel run on the soft tyres.
He ran the softs early in third practice but, unusually, elected to do without them in Q3, running on mediums he said. He was last of the drivers to set a time, lining up ninth.
Sadly, how he might have done starting on mediums will remain a mystery, as he was taken out of the race by Vitantonio Liuzzi on the first lap:
“Liuzzi flew like a torpedo over the grass and put me out of the race. It’s a pity because I had a strong strategy and, as Michael’s good result showed, our car was very strong this afternoon.”
2011 Italian Grand Prix
- Sebastian Vettel named Driver of the Weekend for Monza
- Rate the race result: 2011 Italian Grand Prix
- FIA steward Daly says Schumacher should have had penalty
- 2011 Italian Grand Prix: complete race weekend review
- Vote for your Italian GP driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Vettel poised to clinch second title
- McLaren: Button leads Hamilton home again
- Ferrari: Alonso admits “the title is gone”
- Mercedes: Schumacher fifth after Hamilton battle
- Renault: Senna claims first points finish
Image © Daimler