Rosberg takes tenth from last row of the grid

2011 Japanese GP analysis

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2011

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2011

Michael Schumacher went from 24th to fifth at Spa.

But team mate Nico Rosberg could only manage tenth having started 23rd at Suzuka.

The race data reveals much about their differing performances.

Lap chart

At Spa, Schumacher gained nine places on the first lap alone, largely thanks to a crash at the first corner.

Rosberg had no such luck in Suzuka and came round at the end of the first lap in 20th place. As the lap chart shows he made some progress over the following laps, passing Jerome d’Ambrosio, Jaime Alguersuari and Jarno Trulli.

Race progress

Rosberg benefitted from a safety car period in the middle of the race to cut his deficit to the leaders, much as Schumacher did in Spa.

However Rosberg’s biggest obstacle was the relative difficulty of overtaking at Suzuka. The DRS zone at Spa was very generous, and passing opportunities elsewhere on the circuit are numerous.

That wasn’t the case at Suzuka. Even so, Rosberg made some excellent moves, particularly over the final dozen laps. He capitalised on Paul di Resta being held up by Vitaly Petrov to pull off an unlikely move in the Dunlop Curve.

Pit stops

Mercedes were the fastest team in the pits as they were in Belgium and at four other races this year.

They weren’t just fast, they were consistent too: the silver team did the three fastest pit stops of the race and five of the top eight.

Rosberg’s first two stops on laps 12 and 24 were the quickest of the race.

All lap times

Rosberg ended the race trying to chase down Vitaly Petrov for ninth place. He set the third-fastest lap of the race on the way, just 0.054s slower than the fastest lap, set by Jenson Button on the penultimate tour.

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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44 comments on Rosberg takes tenth from last row of the grid

  1. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 9th October 2011, 16:55

    I do hope Nico Rosberg gets a car that allows him to fight for wins eventually. His first Grand Prix win is horrendously overdue.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 9th October 2011, 17:02

      @Magnificent Geoffrey agreed.

      Loving the avatar :P

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 9th October 2011, 18:02

      Most certainly. Instead of battling to get some points he should be in a car fighting for the podium and for wins.

      • James (@jamesf1) said on 9th October 2011, 22:51

        We could say this about many drivers on the grid though. Fact is, they have to maximise the resources available to them. Those who can punch well above their weight deserve to be a top car. We saw that with Rosberg last season, less so this season. Think Kovalainen in his Lotus, Ricciardo in HRT, Perez & Kobayashi in the Saubers.

        Also lets not forget Schumacher,he has really come alive since Canada

    • Duchess (@duchess) said on 9th October 2011, 20:13

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s past due for Mercedes/any team to give Nico a car he can win with.

      • TheBrav3 said on 10th October 2011, 5:00

        I think you could see mercedes as the third fastest team or better next year, they have recruited good people and are working towards using the maximum the RRA allows ferrari mclaren and maybe even redbull should be worried.

        Props to nico to i think 23rd to 10th was a good result….we can’t all be msc’s after all ;)

        But seriously if mercedes do deliver the right car next year or at least a car capable of wins there is going to be a titanic scrap between those 2 bring on 2012

        • Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 10th October 2011, 8:18

          Agreed.

          If I could have one wish for next season it would be that Mercedes has a car capable of fighting for wins. RedBull and McLaren clearly already have a car that can fight at the front, Ferrari does as well, albeit to a lesser degree.

          If Mercedes can get up there with the big 3, we are going to have fireworks!!

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 10th October 2011, 20:52

      The more time passes, the less probability this will happen there is, in my opinion.
      Red Bull wouldn’t want him, as after Webber they’ve got a list of drivers; McLaren might, and Ferrari won’t.

  2. bananarama (@bananarama) said on 9th October 2011, 17:12

    Mercs pitstops are really something nice to have in case they can fight for podiums next season. But its really not that surprising, considering how much they can practice and experiment in DTM for years now.

    Nice result for Mercedes today, they can be content about how tue sunday went.

  3. Eggry (@eggry) said on 9th October 2011, 17:25

    Mercedes hired some big names of the industry so it’s worth to be seen.

  4. Slr (@slr) said on 9th October 2011, 17:42

    Sauber’s C30 may be gentler with its tyres, but for the team to ask Kobayashi to do half the race on one set of tyres, knowing that degregation levels were high was just plain stupid. No wonder Kobayashi didn’t score any points, he might be good at car-to-car combat. But even he had no hope of keeping his rivals behind, during the closing stages of the race.

  5. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 9th October 2011, 18:29

    Both Rosberg and Schumi deserve to fight for championships with Mercedes.
    Rosberg isn’t just beating an old man, but he’s beating Schumacher.

    I think if Schumi had stayed racing with eventually ending up at Mercedes against Rosberg, hè also would’ve had his hands full.

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 9th October 2011, 18:41

      I’m not sure I agree that Rosberg is still beating Schumacher. In the second half of the season, it was more often than not Schumacher who shone for Mercedes, not Rosberg. I think Rosberg is faster over a single lap – Schumacher’s years will have taken their toll – but for getting the most out of the tyres over a stint, Schumacher now has his measure.

    • Cristian (@cristian) said on 9th October 2011, 20:41

      My opinion is that this year Schumacher is beating Rosberg. Quite clearly in the last 7-8 races.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th October 2011, 20:57

        @cristian

        I don’t agree: It’s 5-5 between them in races where both have finished, Rosberg is slightly ahead on points and crushing Schumacher in qualifying:

        Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

        Schumacher clearly has the momentum at the moment though and I could see him beating Rosberg in the points at this race. You have to say Rosberg was unlucky here, though.

        • michael has been better of recent. qualifying means nothing right now. proven by how sometimes teams dont even bother to set a lap in q3.

          Also when it comes to toughing it out Rosberg is not as good as michael.

          how long would he of kept lewis behind at monza? a lap? 2 maybe? no more.

          Rosberg blew him away last season. This year has been very different. Schumi start 2011 averagely but since monaco has been pretty good. And today his performance was as good as alonso and buttons. He challenged a mclaren and beat a ferrari!

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 14:42

            I would not assume that NR would have only kept LH back for a few laps…LH had a gearing issue that put him on the rev limiter such that he couldn’t get past MS, and let’s not forget the extreme measures MS had to take to keep LH back.

            Imho, NR has been steady eddie from the start of last year and still leads MS so it only looks like MS is outperforming him because he has had to play catchup again. NR deserves more credit than some are giving him. Third fastest lap in Japan. There’s nothing wrong with NR’s work when you compare to the number of times MS has cost himself points. And yet people claim MS’s ‘racecraft’ is better? I don’t get it. NR has had some equally good starts in some races, even leading the race from the start several races back.

            If it weren’t for NR’s technical issues earlier in the weekend there is every chance that he would have at least finished close to MS if not ahead and the points gap would be more than it currently is.

            And to me, even if MS heads NR by the end of the season it likely won’t be by much and it might take more technical issues for NR to have that happen given that MS has shown himself to overdrive the car at times and cost himself points. So even if MS heads NR it is still a huge victory for NR that it took MS this long. NR is not nearly getting the accolades he deserves given that it is MS that is his teammate.

        • Cristian (@cristian) said on 9th October 2011, 21:24

          I agree with you Keith, it 5-5 in races and 60-63 in points, but Michael has been more impressive lately and he changed my very good opinion about Rosberg into a lesser one. Michael may have been the best ever, but his progress is huge compared to last year and it’s made more impressive because of his age, a progress that I don’t see at Rosberg at all, maybe even the opposite.

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 9th October 2011, 21:37

          Schumi’s been having some very strong races. But Rosberg is always there, whereas MSC sometimes is, sometimes isn’t. He’s certainly raised his game, but that’s what one would expect about Schumacher in the first place.

          Maybe once they have a great car, we’ll be able to make a difference between the two. Now, they are evenly matched IMO.

          • runningupthathill (@runningupthathill) said on 9th October 2011, 21:56

            The thing is that Schumacher has himself to blame that he is still behind Rosberg in the standings. His errors in Turkey, Singapore, Valencia and Silverstone has cost him at least 10 points.. So I believe they are very close to each other.

          • MSC has the momentum. He will beat Rosberg this year in points. His advantage in qualifying is nothing compare to Schumi’s racecraft.

        • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 9th October 2011, 22:42

          While I agree with Keith that the results are evenly matched so far in this season, between Nico and Michael (with the exception of qualifying), I don’t think they tell the whole story.

          Their results are even on points and direct comparison, either in this season so far and in the last 8-9 races (3-3 in races they both finished), but Schumacher has been outpacing Rosberg in almost all of this 9 races. Most of the times very clearly (Canada, Belgium, Singapore), sometimes perceptibly (UK, Germany), sometimes very slightly (Hungary). Obviously he started and stayed behind most of the times because of his dreadful qualifying positions and plenty of mistakes, but he was constantly closing the gap to Nico in all those races thanks to his better race pace. And that happened regardless of how awful Schumacher did on Fridays and Saturdays. In Germany and Hungary Schumacher was over a second slower than Rosberg in QLF and struggling badly during practice but that completely disappeared and even went the other way round on the race day.

          This year is nowhere near 2010 for Nico. The only races he outpaced Schumacher 2010-style were China and Turkey. Quite a while ago. Also, Schumacher had his moments over Nico when nobody was really paying attention given how much off the pace Mercedes were: Malaysia and Monaco he was a lot faster than Nico (again, on the race day).

          And then there’s the fact that Nico really hasn’t left anything behind him, except of course in this race. Michael did a lot of mistakes that badly affected his final result and had 2 more DNFs. I think that accounts for 20 points, at least. And yet he’s just 3 points away from Nico. Surely that can’t be put out of the picture.

          The answer about who is beating who depends on the parameters you want to take into the picture. Bare results? Qualifying, even if it’s less important than ever this year? Do you focus on mistakes that have been made or do you reckon that the full potential was higher and missed?

          Personally I believe that, all in all, Schumacher is having the upper hand this season, so far. Furthermore, there is a very interesting upward curve about him.

          • Cristian (@cristian) said on 10th October 2011, 21:18

            Great post! I totally agree with you.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 14:54

            I maintain that nobody at the start of 2010 would have predicted that nearly 2 seasons later NR would still be heading MS in the points standings. MS may have some momentum, which I think can be debated because even though he sometimes shows better pace than NR on race day, he has shown signs that that is because he is overdriving the car…cutting curves, crashing into other cars.

            We’ll have to see how it shakes out in the end but I say that even if MS heads NR at the end of the season, the fact that it took this long is still cause for huge kudos to go NR’s way for how he has handled having MS as a teammate. In my books NR has already won the battle simply because of who it is he still leads at this point in time. He has done enough to prove that he can hold his own vs. MS and I see no reason to believe anything other than if they both have a more competitive car next year NR will use it just as well as MS.

          • runningupthathill (@runningupthathill) said on 12th October 2011, 15:04

            I think it is quite the opposite. I think this year might be really bad for Rosberg’s reputation if he gets outperformed by Schumacher. People will tend to say that Schumacher only needed a longer time to get back up to speed, seeing he is 42, but once he found his speed back, he was beating Rosberg again.

            Schumacher isn’t overdriving the car. Schumacher makes stupid mistakes, but his pace is genuine. I mean, hitting Petrov after he comes out of the pits is not at all overdriving the car, it’s just a stupid misjudgement. Hitting Perez in Singapore had nothing to do with overdriving the car, he wanted to pass but didn’t expect Perez to stay on the inside and didn’t expect him to break so early, stupid, but it had nothing to do with overdriving the car.

            The same for his crash with Kobayashi and Petrov. With Petrov, he just wouldn’t give up the fight, but again, it’s not like he lost the car due to overdoing it. With Kobayashi he just went straight on, missing his brakingpoint in the wet after using DRS for the first time, again, nothing about overdriving the car.

            Fact is that Schumacher might have been slower in almost every qualifying, he has been quicker in almost every race. Stupid mistakes cost him a lot of points, not overdoing the car. The only race where he might have been overdoing the car was Germany, but there as well, he was quicker then Rosberg until his spin.

        • TheBrav3 said on 10th October 2011, 21:58

          As identicaly unlucky as michael was in spa? no that was worse he was 24th

          • runningupthathill (@runningupthathill) said on 12th October 2011, 15:05

            But the circuit was different as well. In Spa you have way more overtakingpoints and a better place to use DRS. It does make a difference.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 15:21

            Call them ‘stupid mistakes’ if you will…I think that is less complimentary than ‘overdriving’ is.

            “Quicker than Rosberg until his spin” is the same as saying driving at a pace beyond which he could control his car.

            This reminds me of back when MS was at his prime and when he would go off the track and get back on he would be applauded for his skill at getting back on the track. I always thought of it that if he was such a genius he wouldn’t have gone off the track to begin with.

            Again, pace is all well and good but if you can’t translate it to high points, and instead too often squander said pace, then perhaps it becomes more prudent to back off an little and ensure maximum points rather than throwing them away. There’s more to it than just showing sheer pace at some points in a race. One has to put the whole thing together. eg. do what NR is doing…quali as high as possible and hold that position as best as the car will allow, as opposed to often starting further back and having to take risks to catch up.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 15:25

            Also, if MS outpoints NR it will only be by a slim margin and will have taken nearly 2 seasons so I don’t think this will do anything but impress people as to how well NR has done vs. a 7-time WDC. His reputation will be that he did what no teammate of MS has been able to do in MS’s career in F1.

          • runningupthathill (@runningupthathill) said on 12th October 2011, 15:34

            As I said, Germany is the only race what could have been called as overdriving the car.

            You’ve got to be honest, they ARE stupid mistakes. Driving against Petrov while driving out of the pitlane and crushing your own race is stupid. It has nothing to do with overdriving the car and you can’t put those two togheter.

            “This reminds me of back when MS was at his prime and when he would go off the track and get back on he would be applauded for his skill at getting back on the track. I always thought of it that if he was such a genius he wouldn’t have gone off the track to begin with.”

            Schumacher didn’t go off that much at all at his prime. He almost always made less mistakes then his competitors. What you say is still happening right these seasons. Last year when Hamilton went off at Spa, people were saying how briljant it was he kept it out of the tyres.

            “Again, pace is all well and good but if you can’t translate it to high points, and instead too often squander said pace, then perhaps it becomes more prudent to back off an little and ensure maximum points rather than throwing them away.”
            But, except for Germany maybe, Schumacher never gave away points by overpushing, only by making stupid mistakes wich had nothing to do with his pace. Also, although he made those mistakes, he’s only 3 points behind Rosberg, so that means Rosberg isn’t getting the most out of it either.

            “There’s more to it than just showing sheer pace at some points in a race. One has to put the whole thing together. eg. do what NR is doing…quali as high as possible and hold that position as best as the car will allow, as opposed to often starting further back and having to take risks to catch up.”
            The fact show (63 – 60) that it doens’t make a huge difference in points. And if it wasn’t for Schumacher making stupid mistakes, he would have a slight advantage. Again, those mistakes often have nothing to do with overtaking or pushing the car to far, but they are plain mistakes (think of Silverstone and Valencia).

          • runningupthathill (@runningupthathill) said on 12th October 2011, 15:37

            “Also, if MS outpoints NR it will only be by a slim margin and will have taken nearly 2 seasons so I don’t think this will do anything but impress people as to how well NR has done vs. a 7-time WDC. His reputation will be that he did what no teammate of MS has been able to do in MS’s career in F1.”

            It does show people that Schumacher has been going up again, wich means Rosberg has beaten Schumacher while Schumacher was underperforming. If Schumacher get’s back to a descent level (he will never be as good as when he was 25 – 32) and beats Rosberg, it won’t be that good for Rosbergs reputation.

            Everyone can see Schumacher has been going better and better during this season, Rosberg has been pretty much the same al year long, so Schumacher get’s back up to a better level and starts beating Rosberg is not a good thing to have for Rosberg.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 17:13

            We’ll have to agree to disagree…I think all of his ‘stupid mistakes’ as you put them have to do with too much pace, and you have somehow narrowed it down to only one incident that was from overdriving. To me, if the rest then are stupid mistakes, and NR has not been making them, then I don’t see how it is NR being outperformed when he still leads MS in points and hasn’t been crashing himself out of it.

            MS is a 7 time WDC who should be trouncing NR and should have from day one given that Brawn touted him as 2010 WDC…under the circumstances and given how it has gone for MS’s teammates in the past, NR’s performance has been stellar.

  6. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 9th October 2011, 18:54

    JB beated Sergio Perez to the fastest laptime by 0.001 of a second, abeilt on worn tyres.

  7. mouser said on 9th October 2011, 18:54

    I know there has been, maybe 5 times, going back to the first of last season, the team has asked Nico to slow down torward the end of a race to conserve fuel. I’ve never heard the team ask Schu to do this. I wonder if Nico is running a higher power setting on his car that causes him to use more fuel than Schu and this may explain why Nico has a tendancy to out qualify Schu by a couple of tenths.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 10th October 2011, 13:47

      I wonder if Nico is running a higher power setting on his car that causes him to use more fuel than Schu and this may explain why Nico has a tendancy to out qualify Schu by a couple of tenths.

      Or maybe Rosberg is a little more aggressive on the accelerator,.. who knows..

  8. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 9th October 2011, 18:54

    I personally think, and I’ve given this quite some thought; that the safety car was their undoing in a way. I think that Red Bull should have done a 4-stopper. Their pace was hurting their rears a lot; and maybe with a 4-stopper, it would have been more manageable. They would also probably have to do 2 stints on the primes; on which they seemed to be quicker than the opposition.

    In such a scenario; I think they would have played to their strengths a lot more – out and out pace on fresher tyres, rather than playing the long game with tyre life; the McLarens had them soundly beat at that today (or yesterday, depending on where you are in the world). If they had gone on 4-stop, then the McLarens would have been forced to follow suit; and this would have meant their tyre preservation advantage would not have played much of a hand.

    Having said all this; I think it was shockingly clear that the McLaren was the quickest car in Suzuka, on Sunday and Saturday.

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 9th October 2011, 18:56

    Weird MW was able to lap as fast as Vettel even with the wing damage. Also very weird the Red Bull front wing was able to stay in one piece (ish) after the incident! Not only they flex, they resist crashes :P!

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 10th October 2011, 4:07

      Given Webber’s comparative pace to Vettel up to this point, it almost makes me wonder if Vettel really was slowed this weekend either by the overwhelming pressure to keep it together, or subconsciously just playing it safe. If not, Red Bull genuinely seem to have taken a step back in pace relative to McLaren and Ferrari, particularly in the places where they have traditionally been dominant, i.e. the 1st sector esses.

  10. Dimitris 1395 (@) said on 9th October 2011, 21:57

    Schumacher has finally found a big part of his form. He is quick, good and ruthless overtaker, he fends off his place like a dog and most of all he has a competitive team-mate who made him eager to fight and pass him.
    On the other hand, Rosberg is a phenomenal driver. Quick in qualifying, with good race pace and also a big amount of talent. Along with Kubica are the drivers, who deserve a place in quicker and better teams.

  11. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 10th October 2011, 12:23

    Schumacher :)

  12. The Limit said on 10th October 2011, 15:21

    When will Formula One take Nico Rosberg seriously? Such an underrated and seldom talked about driver. Hardly anybody has mentioned the fact that he has given Michael Schumacher such a headache at Mercedes, a feat in itself. This is, after all, the most successfull driver in Formula One history who Rosberg is racing against everytime he takes to the racetrack. How a major F1 team has not taken him away from Mercedes, a team that has underachieved horribly in two years of existence, baffles me. In my opinion, Ferrari should be after Rosberg and not Perez if they are serious about ditching Massa!

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 14:48

      Agree with you a great deal, The Limit…I wouldn’t be surprised if those inside F1 have noticed NR’s performance vs. MS and understand the feat in itself as you word it. I believe it will bode well for NR in the future.

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