Rosberg’s slow pit stop played into Schumacher’s hands

2011 Indian GP analysis

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Michael Schumacher benefitted from a slow pit stop for his team mate to take fifth place in the Indian Grand Prix.

The slow hard tyre shaped other strategy decisions, with some drivers losing out after gambling on an early appearance of the safety car.

Here’s all the data from the Indian Grand Prix.

Pit stops

Mercedes were the fastest team in the pits again, turning Michael Schumacher around quickest of all when he came in on lap 18.

But a slow stop for Nico Rosberg on lap 45 helped Schumacher pass his team mate. Rosberg’s last stop was 1.5 seconds slower than Schumacher’s was five laps later. Schumacher was 1.4 seconds ahead of his team mate on the first lap after his pit stop.

However Rosberg also lost time by pitting earlier than Schumacher, running slower laps on the hard tyre while Schumacher gained time on the softs. “My strategy was not perfect today,” Rosberg admitted, “and I lost some time in the second pit stop which meant that I wasn’t able stay ahead of Michael.”

While the mandatory tyre change rules forced all drivers to use the slower hard tyre, several drivers used strategies designed to minimise their hard tyre stints.

Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Jarno Trulli all did single-lap stints on the hard tyres. Paul di Resta and Jerome d’Ambrosio did two and the Renault drivers laps three each.

Find all the pit stop strategy data below.

Race progress

Sebastian Vettel was able to pull away from Jenson Button fairly easily when they were on soft tyres.

When they switched to hard tyres for the final stint it was game over as the charts below show. The Red Bull was able to squeeze much more performance out of rubber Pirelli admitted was too hard for the circuit and conditions.

Lap chart

Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov ran atypical strategies, starting on the hard tyres. They slipped to 18th, 19th and 20th respectively after getting rid of their hard tyres earlier in the race.

The trio would have been in a strong position had the safety car come out early in the race. But despite the collisions at turns one and three the track stayed green and their gamble didn’t pay off.

Di Resta found himself needing an extra pit stop to make it to the end of the race and lost contact with the other two. Perez claimed tenth after Bruno Senna made a late switch to hard tyres.

All lap times

Mark Webber wasn’t able to make his second set of soft tyres last as long as Vettel did. By lap 34 his times started to climb and they didn’t recover.

Pitting early for hard tyres gave Fernando Alonso the chance he needed to claim the final podium position from the Red Bull driver.

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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50 comments on Rosberg’s slow pit stop played into Schumacher’s hands

  1. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 30th October 2011, 18:19

    I still don’t understand why they pitted Rosberg so early. His laptimes were just fine.

    Why switch to tyres which are going to be so much slower before you need to?

    If Rosberg had been a Brazillian driver, there would have been a lot of verbal abuse (as we have seen before). I’m amazed at Rosberg’s constraint. Although obviously P5 or P6 doesn’t matter that much.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 30th October 2011, 18:31

      I often get the feeling that somehow Rosbergs strategy his less good than it could have been; I wonder if maybe MSC is the one making sure he at least has a good theory, and ROS is just relying too much on his team to get it right.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 30th October 2011, 18:38

        his -> is; theory (huh? what?) -> strategy. Sorry, maybe I’m tired or something.

        The podium, and fourth, really show why Button is 2nd, Alonso 3rd in the WDC, rather than Webber being 2nd – I think that maybe Alonso has done a better job with the material he has got than Button, but such is F1.

        The standing is showing quite well how this years championship got where it is, with Vettel in the Red Bull winning clearly out in front, a bit behind him Button in the McLaren being strong though not strong enough to battle Vettel, keeping some distance between him and Alonso+Webber behind him, who are having nice fights together but can’t get much better results, Alonso because of the car, and Webber despite it, somehow. And then HAM and Massa having good pace, when they don’t collide, as has happened too often, which allows the Mercedes cars through, and behind them a heated midfield battle.

        • amoeba (@amoeba) said on 30th October 2011, 20:58

          MS was 2.9 seconds ahead when he came out of the pits, but he lost 1.5 on his out lap because his tyres were cold.

          • amoeba (@amoeba) said on 30th October 2011, 21:04

            Sorry, I replied to the wrong post. I ment it to F1fanNL.

          • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 30th October 2011, 21:16

            Lol massive post fails going on here. You guys are as bad as me…

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 31st October 2011, 8:37

            Continuing discussion from @F1FanNL‘s post: But Rosberg also lost time in his outlap right? So not sure where the difference was finally made then, although the lap chart shows that Schumacher was faster for most of the 2nd stint, but at the end of that stint they were almost at the same pace.

          • amoeba (@amoeba) said on 31st October 2011, 19:19

            Yes, Schumacher closed the gap before Rosberg pitted, and he stayed on the soft tyres and was much faster. My point was that if NR’s pitstop was 1.5 second quicker, MS still would have come ahead of him. Rosberg would have cought him on the outlap and we could have seen some wheel to wheel racing. After the outlap Michael seemed to pull away.

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 30th October 2011, 19:11

      Schumacher was lapping faster than Rosberg when they called Rosberg in. Maybe that’s why they decided to pit Rosberg.

      I found it more surprising to see that Rosberg was only 1.4 seconds behind Schumacher after the pitstop as Schumacher had about 22.5 seconds on Rosberg going in to his stop. Which should be more than 1.4 after the stop.
      Alonso pitted with just about over 20 seconds from Webber and managed to get out in front as well.

  2. michael was back to his tactical, precise self. He clearly had a plan, refused to rush his tyres early on despite being 5 seconds behind his team mate.

    He knew when to push and when not to push. Was another mature good drive.

    he looked like the cat that got the cream after the race.

    the way he attacked the pit entry was like old times

    • Nico outqualified MSC. Michael is faster than Rosberg in the race. IMO MSC will pass Rosberg in the last few laps if MSC was behind in the 2nd pit stop. That would be fantastic to wath.

  3. Alex` (@alexf1) said on 30th October 2011, 18:37

    On French TV I heard that Schuey preserve better his tires on this stint and that’s why he only pitted 5 laps after Nico.

  4. snowman (@snowman) said on 30th October 2011, 18:42

    Schumacher was held up badly in one of his laps by a virgin when he was trying to leap Rosberg so would have been more than 1.4 seconds.

    The main thing is Mercedes want to get Rosberg into a new contract so find it very hard to believe they would deliberately sabotage his race so Schmacher could get ahead of him for a fifth place.

    • What a load of rubbish. In your dreams? :)

      • Postreader said on 30th October 2011, 19:05

        I think you should read his post again…

      • snowman (@snowman) said on 30th October 2011, 20:44

        @AKM ????

        Not sure what you mean there but this time I give you the benefit of the doubt even though comments like yours don’t belong on a site like this. In case wasn’t clear what I was saying.

        “Schumacher was 1.4 seconds ahead of his team mate on the first lap after his pit stop.”

        When Schumi was flying trying to make up time he was compromised behind I think a Virgin, Brundle commentated at the time he lost about a second so what meant is if that didn’t happen and Nico’s stop was ok he still would have jumped him.

        About Rosberg it is speculated Ferrari are interested and Mercedes want to tie him down further than his 2012 contract so why sabotage his strategy for the sake of giving Schumacher a measly 5th place if you want him for the future.

        • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 31st October 2011, 8:41

          But it is also true that in the race the strategy is decided between a driver and his engineers, especially in teams like Mercedes, where they don’t have an official number one, just a mission to get the most points they can.

          So Schumacher and team thought up a strategy to leap Rosberg while Rosberg’s team maybe was just trying to make him get to the end as fast as possible, but that wasn’t enough to keep him ahead of Schumacher.

      • snowman (@snowman) said on 30th October 2011, 20:30

        @goofy That’s not in English so have no idea what it’s saying. Ya, everybody knows Nico has a contract for next year but their is a lot of speculation about them trying to get him tied down to a long term contract so he doesn’t look to go to the Ferrari or Red Bull vacant seat in 2013.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 31st October 2011, 14:43

      @snowman…I think there is enough evidence from MS’s past to believe that this was an intentional decision to try to see that MS heads NR in points by season’s end. Why would Merc do that to NR assuming as you say they want him for the future? Because NR has done enough already to prove his worth, and now he is being diplomatic as the season winds down. My opinion, this behaviour will be no surprise to NR and at the same time NR knows that he is the future of the team, not MS, that is as I say assuming they want NR for the future. And NR has handled MS as a teammate very well for two seasons, so NR may be just going along and not rocking the boat and hoping that together they both have a better car for next year…NR has truly proved to be able to put the car in it’s max position on the grid on a very consistant basis, so NR knows this year is a wash, they barely even knocked on the door of a podium so there’s much work to do yet, and since he’s been handling having MS as a teammate just fine, why not take advantage of his experience to hopefully have a more competitive package next year.

      I’m just glad they didn’t hang NR out to dry starting at the beginning of the season (and last) which is the luxury MS had gotten used to. That fact alone tells me they are serious about NR for the future. If they didn’t care NR would have truly been made another FM/RB/EI at the beginning or 2010 when Ross Brawn had MS as 2010 WDC.

      • snowman (@snowman) said on 31st October 2011, 19:26

        @Robbie

        But in the past when team mates helped Schumacher it was because he was 80% or so of the time faster than them and he was fighting for championships. In this situation they are evenly matched with Nico better qualifying and Schumi in the race and they are just fighting for 7th place in championship which means nothing to the team.

        I just find it hard to believe Brawn would completly ruin Nico’s trust in the team for a measly 5th place that might not make any difference who comes out on top at the end of the year. Every indication has been Mercedes want to keep Rosberg beyond 2012 so why go to the trouble to jeopardise this?? Maybe if Rosberg wasn’t so highly rated and there wasn’t a variety of top seats on offer in 2013.

        The only way I would believe Mercedes did something dodegy is if Rosberg has already signed with Ferrari for 2013 which isn’t that unlikely. After all Alonso was signed up a long time before he moved.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 31st October 2011, 19:49

          @snowman…it is my belief that in the past MS was 80% of the time faster, and fighting for WDC’s, because the team/car was all about him from race one of each season…full stop.

          I don’t think of what might be going on now, that being a small movement to see MS pip NR in the standings by year’s end, as anything more than a wink and a nod kind of thing. NR might have been expecting this type of thing from race one of last year, and thankfully it didn’t happen, perhaps because MS was too far back to be helped, but given that he has lagged behind NR again this year, likely not expectedly though, I think the whole team would probably want to see MS come out on top even if it is just slightly and it won’t matter to the standings other than from a psychological standpoint.

          Let’s face it…the whole team had to ‘conspire’ and I use very small letters when I say that, to help MS…I say that because if there was true competition on the team and the desire to see NR stay ahead of MS they would have pitted him earlier and let him try to keep MS behind him on the track. So unless NR’s side of the garage was jumping up and down to have NR pit differently, methinks the plan here is to give MS the symbolic lead in the standings.

          I think NR’s trust in the team can remain intact. He knows what he has done this year. He knows it is unprecedented in MS’s career for one of his teammates to beat him in the standings two years in a row. And if MS pips him, it will be by a slim margin, and imho will not take away from NR’s ultra consistant handle on the car in quali and finishing in races. He will have nothing to hang his head about having spent most of the season as best of the rest after the top 6 drivers in the top 3 cars.

          I just think there is a very good chance that NR has had it explained to him that it would help the team for MS to come out ahead and NR himself seems to welcome MS’s input so I think NR might be thinking he has a better chance of having a better car next year the happier MS is, going into the off season. Not that I think an MS that might finish a little behind NR in the standings won’t help the team as much to progress.

          Bottom line for me, NR has done enough to prove his worth against an opponent that everyone thought would have been trouncing him after a handful of races back in 2010. Merc have probably assured him of a solid future with them and therefore his better option is to keep the peace, be a team player, and the rewards will come to him in the end.

          • snowman (@snowman) said on 31st October 2011, 20:25

            Sure, the cars were built around him but only because he proved countless times from his very first test session with Jordan what a special talent he was.

            Remember when Barrichello joined Ferrari the big fuss that he made about getting equal treatment in his contract. He only became a solid number two when Schumacher kept getting the better of him.

            Anyways I agree to disagree!

  5. sumedh said on 30th October 2011, 18:57

    The difference between Webber and Vettel’s 2nd stints is staggering. Webber managed just 21 laps while Vettel managed 29!!

    Q: Could Webber have done a 3-stop strategy? Did he have any fresh set of softs left to do that? If yes, would that have been the faster strategy?

    • TheBrav3 said on 31st October 2011, 2:09

      Half of you people need to stop being so paranoid a 40 year old man is doing as well as a mid 20 year old shock horror! The guy won 7 world titles we knew he was good. If there was any favouritism going on nico would be the first to say but guess what? Nico says get me a better car, not ban my team m8. Grow up or ****.

      • TheBrav3 said on 31st October 2011, 2:11

        what is up with the comments on f1 fanatic today lol? i didn’t reply to u sumedh i was just making *a* comment.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st October 2011, 13:31

      You could argue that Webber had more to fight for in the middle of the pack so he couldn’t conserve his tyres so well.

  6. sumedh said on 30th October 2011, 19:00

    And doesn’t anyone else think that Webber should take starting tips from Michael :D?
    It will certainly do a world of good to the Australian.

    Just how does Michael manage to do that everytime! He preserved his entire KERS for the back straight this time, I heard. That is smart!

  7. Jasdip said on 30th October 2011, 19:24

    As always, great analysis Keith! Interesting to note that Sutil, despite being one of the first ones to switch to hard tyres during the final stint, managed to keep at bay both Perez and Petrov (both on softs) all the way till the end.

    Toro Rossos were way faster than Force Indias in first and third sectors. Of late, FIs have become sitting ducks for TRs in the longish DRS straights. This is something that FI will have to work upon if they wish to keep that 6th place intact.

  8. Helen (@helen) said on 30th October 2011, 19:27

    I am worried about Rosberg, he was my most under-rated driver for the last few years and thought “he just needs the car”, but then MSC came back into the same team as his old buddy… He may end up like Massa – 2nd fiddle and will affect his confidence. Don’t forget Massa almost won the championship and displayed real strength and dignity when he was pipped (maybe why him and Hamilton don’t get on?). It wasn’t his fault he got injured and came back to a team focused around Alonso. Would damage anyone. Has not managed his racing ever since, which is a shame.

    What if this happens to Rosberg? Will we lose another potentially good driver to a “special one” with an ego and media attraction that would block the sun. I don’t buy the whole equal driver thing in a team where either Alonso or Michael are part of it. They have to be no.1. Is it such a bad thing? I don’t know, but feel for their team-mates and I really believe Rosberg is good and will not get a chance to fullfil his potential.

    Shame.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 30th October 2011, 19:47

      Rosberg seems to be getting along fine. He has shown no indication of feeling he’s being treated unfairly, and appears to be co-operating with MSC to develop the car to push it forward. For instance, Rosberg saying that the upgrades that have benefitted Schumacher have benefitted him too. He’s still 5 points ahead and hasn’t made any mistakes, which doesn’t suggest he’ll be lost any time soon.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th October 2011, 20:11

      I do get the feeling Mercedes might be doing a tad more to help justify Schu getting a big money, high profile contract.
      On the other hand Schumacher really seems to be getting to grips better with how to make the tyres last in the past 4-5 races now, helping him make best use of his relatively strong race pace.
      The fact Schu knows he is not going to be perfect in qualifying might mean he goes for a setup thats better optimised for the race, only supporting the change of fortunes in the races.

      But Rosberg really will be waiting quite a while for that winning Mercedes, i guess (but no big problem, I mean, Hakkinnen was at McLaren for quite a while before he got a winning car).

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 31st October 2011, 13:29

      Interesting comments Helen and I can totally appreciate where you are coming from. But to me NR has done enough to not be catagorized as you suggest FM did. FM was not outpracticing and outqualifying and outpointing FA. Nor did he do that to MS when they were at Ferrari together, not did RB or EI do it to MS either. Nor did FA’s other teammates do that to him.

      I think it is as David A has suggested, that NR seems fine with how things have been and are going. To me, if they have to slow his pit stop to ensure MS finishes ahead, and to try to ensure MS finishes ahead of NR once the season is over, it doesn’t take away from NR’s far more consistant, best of the rest status on the team.

      In other words, NR has been able to consistantly put the car about as high as it belongs on the grid which is the normal thing to try to do…it is not a good strategy to consistantly qualify behind one’s teammate in hopes that one gets a good start and makes up for it in the race. It is no way to win races and WDC’s.

      So to me Helen there are big differences with NR as MS’s teammate vs. other teammates of MS or FA. NR has been allowed to race, and has proven to hold his own vs a teammate that was touted as 2010 WDC and that still lags behind in points and needs the team to decide on a pit strategy between the two drivers that ensures one ends up ahead of the other.

      MB and DC suggested NR must have some choice words going on in his helmet, some questions he will want answers for as to why they held him out until the gap was great enough for MS to end up ahead, but one wonders if in fact NR expects this, and if he is resigned to it as DavidA suggests, perhaps NR knows he has done enough to show his worth to the F1 world. After all, he has done more than any teammate of MS has ever managed, two years in a row.

  9. Err Bob said on 30th October 2011, 20:14

    Did anyone notice MSC take a extra wide line into the pit lane entrance crossing the white line, whether it made a difference is doubtful but it could account for a extra hundred yards on Nico.

  10. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 30th October 2011, 20:54

    I read an interesting quote from Schumi.
    Hè spared his KERS at start, to be able to overtake à little later.
    Old fox…

  11. John H (@john-h) said on 30th October 2011, 23:22

    This was a great drive by Schumi. Almost driver of the day were it not for Vettel.

  12. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 30th October 2011, 23:46

    As soon as I saw Rosberg’s front end stay up abnormally long on that pitstop for the hard tires, I knew it was to make MS get in front of him. The tire wasnt stuck that I saw, there was no issue except the jackman just didnt let him down for an extra bit of time.

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 31st October 2011, 1:43

    But when Nico came out of the pit in Hard,Schumi was doing a good lap time on Soft,it could have been wheel to wheel down to turn 1.

  14. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 31st October 2011, 2:21

    10 points in the bag… atta boy. Based on the trend, I’m expecting a duck in the next round followed by top 10 finish in Brazil.

  15. lebesset said on 31st October 2011, 9:35

    rosberg and schu were on virtually identical times before rosberg pitted , so why was schu kept out longer ? obviously there will be some variation on a lap by lap basis due to traffic but

    [ rosberg time first ]

    lap40 29.4 29.4
    lap41 29.3 29.3
    lap42 29.5 29.6
    lap43 29.1 28.9
    lap44 29.3 28.8
    lap45 PIT

    looks like politics to me , best way to get more money out of DB is to get schu ahead
    bear in mind that the decision to bring in rosberg would have been after the end of lap 43

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