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 time comparison||n/a||n/a|
Mercedes drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
|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.
|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.”
2011 Japanese Grand Prix
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- Red Bull: Conservative approach delivers Vettel’s title
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- Ferrari: Alonso edges Vettel for second
- Mercedes: Schumacher closes on Rosberg’s tally
- Renault: Petrov makes progress, Senna slips back
Image © Mercedes