2011 F1 driver rankings no.4: Nico Rosberg

2011 F1 season review

Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Rosberg beat Schumacher once again

Nico Rosberg continues to keep his illustrious team mate well-handled and continues to get too little credit for it.

Rosberg’s margin over Schumacher was reduced in their second year at Mercedes, but that was only to be expected.

In particular the scale of Rosberg’s superiority in qualifying was overwhelming. He was only beaten by his team mate on merit once all year.

In a car seldom deserving of better than seventh, Rosberg qualified there or better 15 times. There’s no doubting which driver put the W02 where it belonged on the grid.

That tended to inflate expectations of what Rosberg could achieve on race day beyond what was realistic. The car was rarely up to beating a Ferrari over a stint.

On race day the W02s tended to gravitate towards their ordinary position in the pecking order. For Schumacher that meant making up lost ground. For Rosberg that meant losing places he had little chance of keeping, particularly in the new DRS era.

Beat team mate in qualifying 15/17
Beat team mate in race 7/13
Races finished 17/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 615/873

Belgium was a case in point. He made the start of the year to take the lead from fifth on the grid. But it was only a matter of time before the faster cars slipstreamed past him.

He ended up being passed by his team mate when a safety car period contrived to leave Rosberg leading the pair of them on the harder, slower tyres.

Similarly, he did an admirable job of holding Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa back in Korea before bowing to the inevitable.

Another fine drive in China, where he led for 14 laps, was ill-rewarded when he had to drop back to save fuel as the team had put too little in the cars. He was holding off eventual winner Lewis Hamilton when he received the instruction to back off.

Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Leading under pressure at Spa

Rosberg scored in 11 of the last 12 races, only missing out on the points when he was taken out by Vitantonio Liuzzi in Monza.

The growing battle between the two Mercedes drivers was exemplified in a fraught first-lap encounter in Abu Dhabi. The pair raced wheel-to-wheel as if they were fighting for the world championship on the last lap of the race, not sixth place on lap one.

Rosberg prevailed, and led Schumacher home while finishing within two seconds of Massa. This put him on course to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.

This was a somewhat inevitable result – but it’s hard to see how anyone else might have finished higher given the same machinery.

Rosberg’s unobtrusive style does not win him the kind of acclaim enjoyed by more spectacular drivers. But it continued to serve him very well in 2011.

F1 Fanatics on Nico Rosberg

Very rarely made mistakes, and often seen dicing with the front runners, like in China and Belgium, where he led.
David A

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Valencia, 2011

Started seventh, finished seventh: Valencia was a typical race

A win must be soon for him surely, led in Belgium after a great start.
Ratboy

Challenged for the lead on several occasions throughout the year but was let down by yet another mediocre Formula 1 car. I?m hoping Mercedes can lift their game and provide him with something that allows him to show his talent.
damonsmedley

He?s still improving and seems to be bringing home the maximum points Mercedes are able to achieve each weekend, although we?re yet to see a truly inspired drive from him, which is worrying for a supposed top line driver in his sixth season.
adzz36

Always there or thereabout after the big three teams lock out the major points positions. Beat his vastly improving seven-time world champion team mate.
Colossal Squid

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season review

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116 comments on 2011 F1 driver rankings no.4: Nico Rosberg

  1. TED BELL said on 15th December 2011, 8:53

    Until he wins, none of what is being said about him matters. So far he has been a regular in the top ten but doesn’t have what it takes to challenge the top five. He has shown to be only as good as the car and his only chance to ever win will require a Mercedes Miracle. If they get the car right you will hear more about Schumacher than will be heard of Nico. Nice guy, talented but certainly overated at #4.

  2. GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 15th December 2011, 9:48

    Nico Rosberg was never spectacular, not even when he was leading the Chinese GP because BBC would only showcase the fight between Vettel and Hamilton. Not even when he finished ahead of both the Ferrari’s in China. He again lead the Belgium GP(not those one lap leads before pits), but the onus was again on his teammate who hassled the lesser known rivals, as Rosberg has no-one else to pass but the big 3. His best results in China or Turkey where he finished ahead of a McLaren are just no-shows. Schumacher finishing 4th in the best thing that could have happened to Mercedes GP in 2011 because the failures of Alonso, Hamilton in that race will not be noticed under the biased eye.
    Not making mistakes aka being reliable is no longer a strong point. Better be a driver who appears in the spotlight for passing slower cars than be noticed for achieving something that that the car is capable of. Also his 13 point lead to his teammate is an impoverished show of his cars ability discounting his retirements in Australia and Italy (no fault of his) to that of his team mate who always wanted a new front wing in the early races – in the middle of the race. So Nico Rosberg at 4 is a big NO NO. Next up at 3, the more spectacular ones….

  3. betonwelt (@betonwelt) said on 15th December 2011, 15:01

    great read, agree with every single one of your points.
    i’d put Rosberg at number three.

  4. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 15th December 2011, 15:48

    Rosberg is like Webber. He’s gradually making his way up, but by the time he gets a race winning car, I fear he’ll be (as was the case with Webber) past his prime. It’s a terrible waste of potential unfulfilled (I mean, I can’t definitively label him as a champion as we’ve not seen enough) talent but it’s all part of the business, I suppose.

  5. Enzo (@enzof1) said on 15th December 2011, 17:57

    MSC V.S. Rosberg, we will see next year!

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th December 2011, 13:16

    I’ll admit that Rosberg has not dominated his team-mate as much as he did last year, but let’s be realistic. Rosberg, although not expected to do so, completely wiped the floor with Schumacher last year as a result of Schumacher’s 3 year retirement. You could argue that Schumacher has developed more as a driver, but I think that’s as a result of having more to develop into. You always stand a chance of improving when you have more to improve on!

    I think this position is deserved and I do really feel Rosberg is a great driver. All the elements are there; constructor, the best engine in F1, a compatriot to the team and likeability. I believe that the end of the Brawn era did limit their development scope for 2010 and in 2011 the car should have been better, but Rosberg is the man to deliver if/when the W03 does.

    His start in Spa was certainly the best of the season, absolute lightening, loved it!

    Quiet and collected on the grid but he still delivers. I like that.

  7. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 16th December 2011, 14:30

    I just hope he get a good machine sooner or his talent will get rust.

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