Mercedes: Drivers’ points gap shrinks as Rosberg loses out

2011 Indian GP team review

Michael Schumacher cut Nico Rosberg’s points advantage after passing him in the pit stop.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 11 7
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’26.337 (+0.782) 1’25.555
Race position 5 6
Laps 60/60 60/60
Pit stops 2 2

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 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
Michael Schumacher 100.462 95.876 94.83 94.15 93.824 93.398 93.149 93.122 92.867 92.832 92.82 92.438 92.309 92.82 92.314 92.491 93.424 95.283 109.209 91.816 90.658 91.143 91.337 90.878 90.905 91.339 91.338 91.157 90.607 90.42 90.972 89.909 90.221 89.603 90.218 89.464 89.596 89.366 89.326 89.408 89.307 89.605 88.893 88.757 88.953 88.564 88.659 88.549 89.413 91.145 108.496 89.145 88.91 89.255 89.445 89.765 88.69 89.115 88.841 89.617
Nico Rosberg 99.752 95.735 94.196 93.827 93.535 93.464 92.955 92.752 92.626 93.269 92.238 91.969 92.298 92.278 92.148 92.308 94.49 109.458 92.257 91.397 91.323 90.976 91.197 91.4 91.249 92.589 91.562 91.063 90.665 90.399 90.269 90.45 90.024 90.42 90.221 89.965 89.589 89.436 89.609 89.407 89.33 89.471 89.134 89.327 91.276 109.379 89.699 89.339 88.862 88.98 89.386 89.793 89.486 89.239 89.286 90.14 88.771 88.877 88.6 88.713

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 20.893s
Pit stop 2 Hard 21.482s

Schumacher failed to reach Q3 and complained of tyre vibrations for the second race in a row. But he said: “this certainly does not explain the [0.8s] time gap to Nico so we need to understand what the reason was for that and get on top of it,” he said.

He passed the two Toro Rossos as they queued up on the inside of turn three at the start, then slipstreamed past Adrian Sutil on the way to turn four: “I deliberately didn’t want to use KERS in the first two corners and save it for the long straight where I knew that I could make up some positions,” he said.

That moved him up to eighth and into what became a race-long battle with his team mate, both doing two stints on soft tyres followed by a final stint on hards.

Schumacher’s middle stint was four laps longer than Rosberg’s, giving him more time on the quicker soft tyres. That and Rosberg’s slow pit stop allowed Schumacher to come out ahead in fifth place.

“To come home in fifth place after starting in 11th is certainly satisfying for Michael,” said Norbert Haug. “His start, when he gained three places, and his second long and consistent stint were decisive for him to get in front of Nico.”

Michael Schumacher 2011 form guide

Nico Rosberg

Start tyre Soft
Pit stop 1 Soft 21.149s
Pit stop 2 Hard 22.978s

Rosberg damaged the floor of his car in Q1 hitting a kerb but nonetheless out-qualified Schumacher as usual.

According to Ross Brawn, Rosberg’s middle stint was shorter than Schumacher’s because “second set of tyres faded a little bit more on him”. The lap times show he did his fastest lap of the race two laps before pitting and was only two-tenths of a second off that on his next lap. Perhaps he felt something in the tyres that can’t be discerned in the times sheets.

Rosberg’s second pit stop was one-and-a-half seconds slower than Schumacher’s which made things worse. Schumacher took the place, leaving Rosberg sixth, and cutting the points gap between them to five.

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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38 comments on Mercedes: Drivers’ points gap shrinks as Rosberg loses out

  1. BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st October 2011, 15:47

    I see you are carefull about voicing any suspicions or indeed taking them away @keithcollantine, interesting to see that what Ross mentiones cannot really be seen in the laptimes.

    Schumacher seems like he has been concentrating a lot on getting race setup right, because he knows he is not completely on it in qualifying. I guess that helps him get to the front on sundays.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st October 2011, 16:01

      @bascb You never know, perhaps Rosberg’s first and second sector times on lap 45 were really bad. Got to keep an open mind.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 31st October 2011, 18:31

      Still @bascb, even if Rosberg’s strategy compromised his result, I think Schumacher has been very good in the last races and beating Rosberg in the championship is a realistic objective.

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

        yes, as said above @fixy, Schumacher probably concentrating on the race enables him to get strong results in.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 4th November 2011, 14:21

          Yet in general and virtually 100% of the time teams would not recommend to their drivers to forego a high qualifying spot and hope to make it up in the race. If it was the recommended way to go then I would hope they would ask NR to stop qualifying so well.

          Perhaps it is the nature of today’s tires, or the quali rules that say that if you start outside the top 10 you don’t have to use the tires you qualified on, which is perhaps how he has made up some ground at some tracks at the start, that being with a rule that penalizes the top 10 in order to keep the racing closer and the top 10 from constantly demolishing 11th down making it a 10 car race for the most part.

  2. cduk_mugello (@cduk_mugello) said on 31st October 2011, 17:42

    It was pretty clear from looking at the gap coming down, that Rosberg was losing so much time to Michael. Webber had just stopped, and I think he was going faster on the harder tyres.

    I think this is just a case of Rosberg’s team thinking he would be quicker on the hards (which he was albeit a few laps into his stint), and Schumi’s team confident of the pace on the softs.

    No conspiracy needed (unlike on some forums).

  3. celeste (@celeste) said on 31st October 2011, 17:58

    Go Schumi!!! Go!!!! :D

  4. snowman (@snowman) said on 31st October 2011, 19:17

    “The lap times show he did his fastest lap of the race two laps before pitting and was only two-tenths of a second off that on his next lap”

    Yep but look at Schmacher’s times before his stop and on the last lap before the stop he set his fastest time.

    I think the decision was made because on lap 44 when Rosberg came in Webber had set his fastest lap of the race on the harder tyre.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 31st October 2011, 20:16

      But Keith’s remark you’ve quoted answers Brawn’s quote about a questionable reason for NR’s short middle stint, namely his tires fading a little bit more…nothing to do with MS’s lap times or some reason from Brawn about when MS was pitted. MS’s fast lap may have been because he was told he better push and was reminded he was about to be pitted so not to worry about tire or KERS conservation at that point.

      If I’m NR and I just did my fastest lap of the race followed by one that was two tenths off I think I would question coming in too, unless it was due to how he would come out in traffic. That didn’t seem to be an issue though, other than the traffic named MS.

      Regarding the pit decision being because of Webber setting his fastest lap on the harder tire, I doubt Merc thinks of themselves as on that same level such that they would also expect the hards to work so well for them too….the bulk of the weekend had it drilled home to us that the softs were the tires of speed, up to 2 seconds faster said the headlines on this site prior to the race weekend.

      • also remember the radio message to michael about going 1sec a lap faster than nico.

        nico would of also had this message and probably wanted to pit to get fresh boots in hope to combat the MSC threat

  5. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 31st October 2011, 19:19

    Schumacher’s comeback:

    First year: getting back, getting used to racing again in the new F1-era with the ‘new’ rules. Trying to (re)build the team, after the second takeover in two years.

    Second year: slowly but steadily getting to the old level. Hopefully beating his teammate. Building the team, preparing to make a big step in the next year.

    Third year: championship contender.

    • Yes, I agree.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 1st November 2011, 4:15

      How smart Schumacher is! Now Mercedes car is the sole matter I think.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 1st November 2011, 4:18

      I wouldn’t get my hopes up, depends on the Engineers ability to produce something good. But I do agree that when Schumacher senses the opportunity that Mercedess can fight for a good finish, his old instinct will kick in and he will be competitive again. I believe having so much success in the past, he is not really motivated for anything less than the ability to fight for the podium or the win. But we will see. He is showing to be strong during the race and that’s what matters.

    • TdM (@tdm) said on 1st November 2011, 18:15

      I don’t think we will see him getting another championship but actually I prefer this Schumacher to the all dominant one.

      He has shown glimmers of his past over aggressiveness but he is actually beginning to be a quick, spirited, likable and FAIR competitor…

      (awaits a schumi style moment to prove me wrong)

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 2nd November 2011, 10:44

      @vertsappen I think there is a lot of truth in your comment regarding their first year. However, while the fight between the two drivers is much closer this year, let’s not forget that they’ve not even been on the podium yet. While the disparity between Rosberg and Schumacher decreases, relative to the rest of the field they’ve had a bit of a disappointing year. I really hope next year is 3rd time lucky!

      As a constructor, they really have no excuse.

  6. Noelinho (@noelinho) said on 31st October 2011, 19:41

    I don’t think Mercedes will be in position to go for the championship next year, but regardless of the final points total this season, the second half of the year has shown Schumacher is very much equal to Rosberg now, having finished ahead of Rosberg the last three times they’ve taken the chequered flag. All he needs to do now is be a bit more careful of his front wing!

  7. onewingedangel (@onewingedangel) said on 31st October 2011, 20:09

    With the talk of a car (which Marshals apparently said was a McLaren) losing some ballast in qualifying (but no official confirmation) – could it have in fact been Schumachers Mercedes which would then have caused the vibration?

  8. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 1st November 2011, 2:58

    Schumi don’t seem to have the pace on quali but for somehow have a good race pace,not sure when the Stig comes in :). But yeah he is doing a good job this season,Schumacher & the Mercedes team came forward a long way since the summer break.

  9. SMI64 said on 1st November 2011, 3:18

    Every driver if he has had a break of 3 years is only going to struggle on a comeback. This applies equally to the current lot of young drivers ( Vettel / Button / Hamilton / Alonso ). Slowly but steadily Michael is improving and it is only a question of time, he gets back some of his talent and starts beating Nico Regularly. Having said that i doubt whether Michael will get back all that he has lost. As a Michael fan i do hope he gets back to his original level.

  10. Eggry (@eggry) said on 1st November 2011, 4:11

    Schumacher gets better and better. I have to admit he impressed me this year because I looked down him last year. Now I question is Nico really big gun though…

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 1st November 2011, 6:45

      @Eggry I don’t think Nico’s living up to his hype, if I’m honest. I’d love to see him do well, so I’ll reserve judgement until he’s in a properly fast car. The Mercedes simply isn’t good enough to be winning races at the moment.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 2nd November 2011, 15:10

        Ross Brawn had MS as 2010 WDC…put another way, nobody at the start of the 2010 season would have tried to make the prediction that nearly 2 full seasons into MS’s return NR would still be heading MS in points. Nobody was saying ‘give it 30 races plus and maybe MS might have a slight lead on NR in the points’. If they had they would have been laughed off blog.

        My point…if anybody has not lived up to his hype it has been MS…on the other hand, for NR to have done what he has done with MS as a teammate is not only unprecedented, it is huge for NR. His confidence must be sky high for someone who has never won a race because to do what he has done with MS as a teammate is in fact a huge victory for NR.

        I just watched NR’s video blog regarding the results of the Indian GP and he is totally ok with how it went for the team and for himself to finish one spot higher than he qualified. This guy has it together and I think is going only upwards in his F1 career while it is MS who has had a serious downturn in his.

        And I simply don’t buy the argument that one has to give any driver a break for having taken time off. If they came back it was because they were completely ready to compete in F1 again at the top level, and ok, let’s give them a handful of races, perhaps half a season, which by default means no matter the car they won’t likely compete for the WDC in their first year, unlike Brawn’s prediction for MS. But to now be applauding MS for lagging behind NR by only 5 points with 2 races to go of season 2 is laughable to me and continues to show that the cards were heavily stacked in his favour in the past in order for him to achieve the numbers he did.

        MS is going to need the best car on the grid next year to compete for the WDC. That is a fact. Almost every time the WDC winner had the WCC winning car. Or at least a very strong second place car. But this time he actually has a teammate that is allowed to compete against him and who has been seriously outqualifying him. So MS will need the best car, need to beat NR not just on Sundays but on Saturdays, and will have to get by two Red Bulls which most would bet will still be the cars to beat in 2012, plus the Ferraris and the Macs.

        MS doesn’t stand a chance next year, and if he has a better car and can keep it ahead of NR, I wince at the carnage when MS tangles with the current top 6 drivers on the top 3 teams. We’ll see the old MS alright, only this time I hope the FIA is far less patient with his bullying as they have shown to be in these two most recent seasons of his return that has seen him tangle often with cars that NR put behind him in qualifying.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 2nd November 2011, 15:27

          Slight edit on above post…MS stands a small chance next year, and should be fighting with NR and the current top 6 in a closer battle than this year has presented, but I don’t see the Merc being that much better other than to be strong 4th rather than distant 4th, perhaps even 3rd if one can imagine Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mac as 4th best in the WCC next year. In other words MS should be in the mix of the top 3 teams moreso than last year which I predict is only going to mean more carnage from him. FA, FM, LH not to mention SV, MW and JB and of course NR…these are not guys who are going to be intimidated nor make way for MS and MS is known to conduct himself as if he has his own rulebook, so…should be event filled.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 2nd November 2011, 22:13

            as if he has his own rulebook,

            I don’t agree. He has been tough, but to accuse him of cheating is just wrong and I think more often than not he has been fair.
            And considering what Lewis and Felipe have been getting up to he’d fit right in anyway…

            these are not guys who are going to be intimidated

            Neither were guys like Montoya, Hakkinen or Alonso.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 4th November 2011, 14:12

            ‘as if he has his own rulebook’ doesn’t necessarily mean cheating but it is interesting that you automatically assume that is what I meant. I mean it in the sense of bullying and trying to get away with moves in hopes that they are not penalized or that the risk is worth any potential reprimand. And ask the guys he has hit and broken his front wing on this year if that was fair.

            Last time I checked Hakkinen and Alonso have won WDC’s with MS at Ferrari, so we agree the current lads I have mentioned are not going to be intimidated and there is a precedent that they will prevail with that kind of commitment.

        • Naren Pratap said on 4th November 2011, 14:12

          from your comments it looks like you really hate MS I mean look at what he is doing considering his age he has expirence on his side but he is slowly catching up to his younger team mate yes it took him longer than he intended but it is a fact he is catching.

          As for you laughing at MS’s Performance i dont know how well you follow the sport but as you know there are a lot of factors that required to produce a good result and a person after taking 3 years of a break has to come back and compete at the highest level hats off to the guy especially a guy like MS being a 7 time world champion(7 times) he still comes back only shows he lover the sport he loves driving on the limit and doesn’t really care about his past reputation…
          I only hope he wins many races next year (although i know with mercedes in it’s current form that does’nt look like it’s going to happen)

          And lastly for a guy who like you who can just type rubbish by saying that MS’s performance is laughable DUDE seriously it’s easy to sit in front of a computer and type up this s*** please try going out there and doing something even close i mean close to what he has achieved or is going to achieve and i’ll take my hat off to you.. No offence you have your opinion and i have mine.

  11. amoeba (@amoeba) said on 1st November 2011, 11:29

    I analyzed a bit more the data and try to sum it up. Schumacher decreased his deficit of 6.48s to 1.83s on the second set of tyres before Rosberg pitted. Regarding the pitsop, if I compare their inlaps and outlaps I find that MSC gained .13 and .88 respectively. If you compare MSC’s last 5 flying laps on the 2nd set with Rosberg’s first 5 flying laps on the hard tyre, it shows another 2.13s advantage to Schumacher.
    And Rosberg set his fastest lap on lap 59 on hard tyres.

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