Mercedes: Schumacher closes on Rosberg’s tally

2011 Japanese GP team review

The Mercedes drivers closed to within three points of each other in the championship in Japan.

Michael Schumacher beat one of the Ferraris to take sixth.

But Nico Rosberg had to battle his way through the field after a technical problem in qualifying left him 23rd on the grid.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 8 23
Qualifying time comparison n/a n/a
Race position 6 10
Laps 53/53 53/53
Pit stops 3 3

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 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53
Michael Schumacher 105.323 102.056 101.572 101.399 101.637 101.61 101.911 101.891 104.559 118.519 101.258 100.796 100.597 100.8 100.976 100.733 101.371 100.81 100.583 101.163 102.661 101.089 102.23 114.925 143.513 131.968 150.742 100.381 99.01 98.962 98.957 98.684 98.611 98.718 98.907 98.726 98.936 98.297 98.37 98.199 100.798 115.485 98.279 98.67 98.68 98.504 98.63 98.282 99.12 98.427 98.273 98.033 97.916
Nico Rosberg 114.517 104.262 104.43 102.555 103.979 103.563 102.373 102.429 103.683 102.44 104.312 105.524 117.627 100.044 100.095 100.35 101.208 100.447 100.972 101.409 100.956 101.27 101.537 121.453 140.711 108.019 148.802 102.899 100.83 100.561 99.85 98.549 99.117 100.351 99.427 100.516 100.448 98.621 99.641 99.641 103.673 115.084 96.874 98.318 99.684 100.224 99.135 97.054 98.653 96.614 97.025 97.908 98.085

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Suzuka, 2011

Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Suzuka, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.667s
Pit stop 2 Soft 22.57s
Pit stop 3 Medium 20.879s

With Rosberg unable to set a time, Schumacher was the highest Mercedes driver on the grid for only the third time in 2011.

He started eighth having not set a time in Q3 following his altercation with Lewis Hamilton at the chicane.

Running the same three-stop strategy as the cars in front of him, Schumacher looked unlikely to finish higher than the seventh place he occupied for much of the early part of the race.

But by staying out late into his third stint, inheriting the lead of a race for the first time since his Ferrari engine failed here five years ago, he built up a sufficient gap over Felipe Massa to come out in front of the Ferrari in sixth place.

Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

Nico Rosberg

Start tyre Medium
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.575s
Pit stop 2 Soft 20.665s
Pit stop 3 Soft 20.809s

An hydraulic problem developed on Rosberg’s car at the start of Q1 and he was unable to participate in qualifying, leaving him 23rd on the grid.

Rosberg’s progress through the field was aided by the fastest pit stops of any driver in the race during his first and second visits.

Starting the race on medium tyres allowed him to run the final stint on softs and overtake some of the cars in front of him. An opportunistic move on lap 46 took him ahead of Paul di Resta when the Force India driver was momentarily held up by Vitaly Petrov in the Dunlop curve.

Rosberg was never able to put a move on Petrov, but he shadowed the Renault and together they took Kamui Kobayashi and Adrian Sutil, Rosberg finishing tenth.

“This is definitely one of the toughest tracks for overtaking so starting from the back of the grid meant that I had a pretty tough job,” he said.

“Before the race, I hoped to achieve between eighth and tenth places and, whilst it would have been nice to be a bit higher, it’s still a decent result.”

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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38 comments on Mercedes: Schumacher closes on Rosberg’s tally

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th October 2011, 16:33

    I bet both Mercedes guys are feeling this is finally getting to look like a car they can work with.

    And Schumi seems to have taken 30 races to get up to speed. I even heard the old “Mercedes is taking the car development to suit Schumacher instead of Rosberg” thing again!

    • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th October 2011, 19:39

      @BasCb – both of them have a similar driving style isn’t?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th October 2011, 19:41

        @icemangrins as far as I know, and both the drivers and Ross Brawn have been telling us the past 2 years, yes.

        • icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 10th October 2011, 19:51

          It is really great to see Schumi showing good race pace and I’m sure he will be leading the Mercedes points tally by the end of this year if he keeps doing this year.

          By next year the only thing he has to improve is his Qualyfying form and yes, if MGP improves their car.

        • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 10th October 2011, 21:17

          I still think there are subtle differences in their style and set up: for most part of this year Schumacher had à higher top speed than Rosberg.

          This to me is consistent with Schumi liking à snappy, oversteery back.

          To me it looked like hè sacrificed some downforce for this. While Rosberg could set à little more wing and this having better overal speed than Schumi.

          So, either it’s now become more of à Schumi-car, or Schumi still can adjust, but needs more time to do that.

          • Mr draw said on 10th October 2011, 23:50

            Good observation. I think many of Mercedes’ tyre-wear problems are explained by an oversteering car, which induces high tyre-wear rates at the rear tyres, which makes the car even more difficult to control. It seems they finally sorted out the tyre problem, as Schumi was able to pit significantly later than the other front runners.

          • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 11th October 2011, 3:45

            Hmm, this is very interesting point and good observation btw. I also think that there are substantial differences in their style of driving and setup. For one, as you mentioned, the top speed, which explains lower wing setting for Schu, and another is the fuel consumption difference. As already pointed out by couple of users here, it has been observed that Nico has been asked to slow down torward the end of a race to conserve fuel on several occasions. While this has not happened to Schumacher. Both of these fit in nicely with the relative wing settings.

            It could also be possible (speculative though) that Rosberg might like to be more agressive on the accelerator (maybe accelorates earlier out of a corner), which could explain the need for higher wing and also why Nico tends to be faster during qualifying. Disadvantage of which is high fuel consuption and maybe greater tyre ware.

  2. Christian said on 10th October 2011, 16:33

    Is it really one of the toughest tracks for overtaking? Hmmmm.

  3. Right now, more than anything I want Schumacher to beat Rosberg in the standings even more than I want Alonso to nab 2nd.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th October 2011, 17:10

      Bounce back of old champion!! Nice story but not good for Nico though :P

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 10th October 2011, 19:10

      I agree @Steph, considering the excellent races Michael is doing he deserves it. Not that Nico doesn’t, but I’d like to see the seven-time world champion on the podium and enjoy a good end to the season.

      • sid_prasher (@) said on 10th October 2011, 20:49

        @steph I definitely feel Michael has regained some of the lost confidence and is looking really good. It will be a close fight to the finish!

      • artificial racer said on 11th October 2011, 16:29

        On the other hand Schumacher makes a lot of errors. He qualifies poorly. Nico’s Monza race was destroyed through no fault of his own and Suzuka qualifying also. I see no reason why Schumacher “deserves” anything… his job is to drive the car to its ability and not make mistakes.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 11th October 2011, 19:09

          Then again, Michael’s Belgian qualifying was wrecked through no faukt of his own, and he still beat Nico on race day. But yes, Schumacher could cut out some mistakes.

          • artificial racer said on 11th October 2011, 20:12

            Michael definitely makes great starts pretty consistently. When he doesn’t crash he tends to have a good race… often managing to get in front of Nico, if nobody else. I get the impression that beating Nico is his absolute motivation this year, with an eye on the 2012 title. But right now he’s taking too many risks.

    • cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 10th October 2011, 21:08

      Couldn’t have said it any better myself! I don’t even know what I’d do if he won a grand prix, probs faint on the parade lap and not see him on the podium! Hahaaa

  4. Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th October 2011, 17:08

    I’m really impressed by Schumacher’s recent performance while Nico disappointed me a little. With strong technical backup they will certainly raise their game next year!

  5. Boomerang said on 10th October 2011, 17:14

    The only way is up!

    It seems that Bob is shuffling ‘cards’ properly. True Silver arrows are yet to come!!!

  6. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 10th October 2011, 17:22

    Schumacher has had the pace all year (on Sundays only, mind you) to beat Rosberg, he’s just wasted it with too many mistakes.

    So if he can have clean races until the end of the year, he will beat Rosberg, I think – but that is a big if.

  7. auto_freak (@auto_freak) said on 10th October 2011, 17:23

    I believe Schumi will skim past Rosberg only just. He deserves it, he has more top finishes I believe and the second half of the season is showing how Schumi really used to drive back then. He never lost the talent, he just didn’t have the top form. Give him a RB7 and he’ll do wonders. Next years Merc must be one of the top 3 cars!

  8. santiagoname (@santiagoname) said on 10th October 2011, 17:34

    Schumi always drives better the second half of the season than the first.. he will definitely beat Rosberg.. I only wish he manages to get a victory in 2012..

  9. TED BELL said on 10th October 2011, 18:16

    Rosbergs great results came from passing the worst eight cars in the field. If you can’t pass a Lotus or a HRT or a Virgin and especially a Williams then you are having a bad day. The bottom eight would have trouble racing in GP2. Your a good driver Nico but you will never be a Schumacher.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 15:01

      Yet few people said it like that when MS had 9 cars move out of his way at the start of Spa…he got driver of the day or weekend and he didn’t even have to pass those lesser cars, they moved out of his way yet everyone made it sound like such a feat. At least NR had to physically pass them and didn’t have the seas part in front of him for help.

      I agree NR is no MS…NR will never be the bully he is and has shown himself to be far less erratic than MS and still heads MS after nearly 2 seasons. Unprecedented ground for MS to be on.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th October 2011, 1:57

        MS still carved his way through the field, to gain 19 positions and finish 5th. Rosberg had a good race on Sunday, and showed good racecraft as you say, but it doesn’t compare to Schumacher’s at Spa.

        NR won’t be a “bully”, but he won’t be a seven time champion either.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th October 2011, 15:50

          Fair enough but to me the fact remains, and I am glad to finally hear it (read it) said that MS had the luxury of 9 cars moving out of his way at the start at Spa, so let’s not make it sound like he did some amazing feat, which is what predominated after that race weekend, including MS getting DotW for it. He also benefitted more from the safety car than NR did last weekend. MS also overcooked it passing PdR and even though that was deemed fine, the fact remains he could easily have damaged his car or spun right after passing PdR ie. he didn’t entirely have control of his car.

          Anyway, after the 9 car parting of the seas being swept under the carpet in favour of it being made to sound like MS passed them all with hard fought work, I’m just glad to hear a bit of realistic comparison to NR’s weekend of starting at the back.

  10. Mike (@mike) said on 11th October 2011, 1:32

    I’m really impressed by Schumacher this race. First, beating a Ferrari. For the most part the top 6 have been in a league fo their own so I’m quite surprised he managed to do it. Another few seconds and he’d have beaten Lewis as well.

    I don’t think Nico had a good weekend. It wasn’t really good enough in the race. His pace is great but he needs to take some of Schumacher’s race craft to the track. (However, his pace IS good. And he was very unlucky.)

    • 72defender (@72defender) said on 11th October 2011, 18:48

      My sentiment exactly!

      I like Nico also but not in the same league as far as race craft.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th October 2011, 15:08

        Define racecraft…overdriving the car and therefore cutting curves and crashing into other cars, or desperately and controversially keeping LH behind is not good racecraft. The pace MS has shown has often been squandered with mistakes, so what good is the pace if you can’t control the car? Meanwhile NR has gone about his business qualifying higher than MS usually, which has meant he has had to play with the big boys while MS gets to look impressive passing cars that don’t belong ahead of the Mercs anyway.

        NR had 3rd fastest lap in Japan, he has lead from the start in a race, he has trounced MS in the qualifying rounds, and he heads MS in points by a margin that should be greater if he hadn’t had technical issues earlier in the weekend. And MS has made enough mistakes throughout the season that if it weren’t MS some would be saying Merc should dump him.

        I think this racecraft that people talk about is actually an MS that it is overtrying not to get outpointed by his teammate 2 seasons in a row…unprecedented turf for MS.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th October 2011, 2:09

          He heads MS in points by a margin that should be greater if he hadn’t had technical issues earlier in the weekend.

          However, Schumacher has had more DNFs due to technical issues than Nico. They’ve both had their shares of bad luck, so the points gap is a fair one.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th October 2011, 15:55

            But in reality MS has cost himself many more points and could actually be leading NR by now, but is not, due to mistakes on his part…ie. not what one would expect of a 7 time WDC. I put that down to conditions being night and day different for him now that he is not coddled at Ferrari the way he was. I think he is overdriving the car because it is not built for him and because his teammate is allowed to compete against him.

  11. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 11th October 2011, 4:05

    Good race from Schumacher for holding on Massa for rest of his life.I think Mercedes was in a better shape in this race then Ferrari.

  12. With the new top recruits and Michael as an iconic figure that have find his old self back, think Mercedes is going to be stronger and sure 110% Michael will be fighting for win or giving more hard time for the top running cars.

  13. Brent Yen (@wwwh355) said on 11th October 2011, 7:04

    There was an interview with Nico, he said they (Nico and Michael) basically drive in the same way. In terms of telemetry, Nico said he just won the braking into the slower corners (he said he did it more efficient than Michael did). So I guess in qualify situation, you push the car to the limit and this disadvantage that Michael has just surfaced. But in the race situation where the car was NOT at the limit, this just won’t show up, so Michael (compares to Nico) always performs better in race day where I think experiences got a bigger portion of the whole performance. Just a guess.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 11th October 2011, 8:13

    So good to see Schumacher back on it! I was hoping his mistake in Singapore wouldn’t knock him back and it hasn’t done.

    Cracking race from Rosberg. I’m glad I got to see him attack the field on the medium tyre from the back. We were robbed of his attempt from 10th in Monza.

  15. Mark Senn said on 11th October 2011, 10:01

    I hope MSC can get onto the podium before the end if the season, he is looking a bit like is old self, just needs a better car. Would be interesting to see what time he could do in the Red Bull.

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