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Brawn doesn’t want Schumacher to “dominate” Rosberg
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Brawn doesn’t want Schumacher to “dominate” Rosberg
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Jan 2010   |  2:21 pm GMT  |  141 comments

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn has had more to say on the dynamic between his two drivers this season. He said that he has great faith in Nico Rosberg and that he does not want Michael Schumacher to dominate the team. He makes it clear that he feels that favouring one driver damages the motivation of the other.

Picture 37
Speaking in an interview with F1.com, Brawn spoke of Rosberg benefitting from being Schumacher’s team mate to set him up for life after Schumacher’s retirement.

“I never wanted Michael to dominate, ” he said. “(At Ferrari) Michael dominated because he was the best. There was never a structure that enabled him to dominate. He dominated because he was the fastest and most consistent driver. So we will have to see how the season develops.

“It is not good having one driver dominate a team because that means the other driver is not performing as he should. I don’t want Michael to dominate. I want them both to compete very strongly and both to win races. But at the end of the day we want to win the championship. Decisions may develop where one driver has to be given extra support for the championship but we won’t do that until the situation arises. Until then it is a completely open competition and I don’t want one driver to dominate the other.”

At Ferrari. Brawn made the decisions, especially during races, but the tone was set by Jean Todt, then the team principal. In his own team, Brawn made some decisions last season which went Jenson Button’s way during races and which irritated Rubens Barrichello, but close analysis of the decisions shows that they allowed Barrichello a chance to come out on top, but he failed to take it. At Ferrari he was clearly moved out of the way on occasions to Scumacher’s benefit. It is unlikely that this would be repeated at Mercedes partly because Brawn is in charge and times ahave changed, partly because it would not be what Mercedes want and partly because Rosberg is the kind of driver who would have a lot to say about it.

That said, every team will invoke some priority later in the season if one of the drivers is going for the world title.

I find Brawn’s comments on Rosberg very interesting. He says he tried to hire him for Honda in 2007 and has the highest admiration for his raw talent. Like many drivers in his position, the first win is a hurdle he needs to overcome soon. Many people admired Rosberg’s performances after a shaky start last season, but to hear Brawn speak in such glowing terms is interesting. He’s not normally given to eulogies on young drivers. He normally only speaks in glowing terms like this of drivers he knows well.

“We have tried to sign Nico for several years,” he says. “We had strong discussions with him two years ago. We see Nico as a great talent, but it needs finishing and maturing. He has not won a race yet, although he came very close, and I think it is a wonderful partnership between him and Michael. They work well together and I see Michael helping Nico develop his career. Michael has come out of retirement but we have to accept that there will come a day when he has to stop forever and then we will have Nico.”

As for the new car, which will debut on Monday, Brawn expects a significant performance step from the chamionship wining Brawn car of 2009. This will make it a pretty competitive machine unless one of the main rivals has found some unique solution to deal with the added weight and tyre wear of the cars under the 2010 rules.

“It’s probably quite a bit quicker, ” he says. “We have two stages with the car. The one you will see in Valencia and a different car that you will see in Bahrain.”

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141 Comments
  1. Ahmed Youssef says:

    Has anyone noticed the similarity between Nico Rosberg and Corinna Schumacher? I think its uncanny!

    I hope Schumi kisses the right person after winning!

    1. AlexD says:

      Best comment ever!!!!

    2. Andrew Scadden says:

      This has to start a competition called best comment on the “JamesallenonF1 website”

      unofficial of course James …….. we dont want lawyers involved :)

    3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      And they say that Michael Schumacher looks a but like Celine Dion.

      The next time that Nico watches a re-run of Titanic with his girlfriend should be interesting.

    4. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Any other look-a-likies?

      Here are some of my suggestions:

      Rubens Barrichello = Dr. Frasier Crane
      David Coulthard = Max Headroom
      Felipe Massa = Fred Savage from The Wonder Years, Jamie Cullum, Donny Osmond
      Frank Williams = Monty Burns from the Simpsons

  2. Michael Nichol says:

    Rosberg and Schumacher similar to Hakkinen and Senna. Time will tell.

  3. Viktor says:

    The very best in F1 never needed mentoring from older drivers – did they? Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton, Raikonnen. Although Massa appeared to benefit hugely from Schumachers pit lane consultancy at Ferrari. But he’s not a WDC yet. If Rosberg is going to have a successful future in F1 then he has to develop a lethal, clinical mindset where his highest priority is to annihilate M. Schumacher. Is he capable of that?

    1. Andy C says:

      Viktor
      the car plays a part in how succesful how quickly. Lewis walked into a fast car, Schumacher was exceptional even in that Jordan test.

      Raikonnen had most success in good cars.

      Nico hasn’t really been in the top car, and this is removing that excuse. If he does well with merc we’ll see how good he is.

      It will be experience for him whatever happens

      1. Viktor says:

        I wasn’t talking about the car or how quickly drivers achieve success. I was talking about the will to win, the mindset to establish psychological supremacy over a team mate. I wonder whether Rosberg has it in him to go toe to toe with Michael Schumacher.

        And, for the record, Lewis may have walked into a fast car, but you have to have the cojones to use it – see Heikki Kovaleinen. And Alonso started in a Minardi, Raikonnen in a Sauber, Schumacher in a Jordan. But they shone. Has Rosberg burned as bright in the early part of his career?

      2. ElChiva says:

        all of them have the cojones (save 1 or 2, the jury is still out). I believe in alternate history. What if HAM started his career in a Minardi?

      3. Tim says:

        Whats interesting about the other great drivers is that they all scored wins pretty early in their career. Schumacher after one year, Alonso after 2.5yrs, Hamilton after I think it was 8 drives? Senna after a year, Prost after a year and a bit etc etc etc.
        Rosberg has done nothing in that Williams. He can qualify it well but he can’t seem to race it well and his performances seem to drop off.
        Perhaps he has too much going on. You know all those shampoo advert appointments must take up a lot of time to administer.

        I think Ross is simply trying to instill some confidence into a very worried youngster who by now must already see the tide turning toward Schumacher.
        How do you compete psychologically against Schumachers stats when you have 4yrs in f1 and not a single win. Not even a second place.

        …and you know that Vettel is the crown prince annointed. No, Rosberg is simply another journeyman, fast but will likely see out his f1 years without a championship.

  4. Diarmuid says:

    I certainly dont believe Michael would want extra special treatment now. this is his chance to clean up his (undeserved) reputation and I think he will take it.

    1. rpaco says:

      He may start out with that intention, but once he has the bit between his teeth, all thoughts of clean competition are out of the window, winning is the fundamental and singular vision.
      If he is, as I suspect, now only as good as the best out there, he will struggle, unless the new Brawn (oops! Mercedes) is quicker than the rest.

      I wonder if Ross’s statement has anything to do with his reading this blog.

    2. jose says:

      he has unfinished business in f1. To beat alonso and ferrari are two of them. The third to try to make people forget what he did wrong in the past. All of them very hard targets to achieve.

  5. Curro says:

    Spot on. Todt ruled Ferrari’s strategy and RB was the perfect executor. But these are different times. I guess the best scenario would be for MS to be a tad rusty in the first few races allowing Rosberg to gain the upper hand, then see if the master is still strong enough to fight back. If not, expect definitive retirement by the end of the year.

    1. jose says:

      schumi could be rusty, but the problem with rosberg is that he is just not fast enough.

  6. Noelinho says:

    Rosberg has always shown himself to be quick, there’s no doubt about that. He’s a decent racer too, but he also makes a lot of mistakes when he’s caught up with other cars, and that’s always, to me, been his biggest downfall. If he can stop that, he’s got some promise.

    That said, I wouldn’t put him in the same league as Massa, Alonso, Schumacher, Vettel or Hamilton. I’d put him in the league behind with Button, Webber and Kubica.

    1. A Tate says:

      I think you are spot on with this assessment.

      1. Noelinho says:

        Many would disagree!

    2. Nick H says:

      how can you rate Massa and Vettel a league above Button when he has won a WDC and they haven’t?

      1. arvi says:

        i bet badoer might be wdc in brawn 2009

      2. Noelinho says:

        Winning titles isn’t everything. Stirling Moss didn’t win a title, but few would say that he wasn’t better than many who won titles in his era.

        I do rate Button, but as an out-and-out, top quality racer, he’s not up there with the best. Vettel is much younger and is clearly extremely quick; once he’s cut out his youthful mistakes, he will prove to be a class above.

        Massa – well, he constantly exceeds expectations. He had a disastrous start to 2008, yet he won the most races. He is incredibly quick and with a bit more luck in 2008, he could easily have won the title comfortably. But for two corners, your argument would leave Hamilton outside the top drawer, and leave Massa in. Would that be fair?

        It’s all perception, and that’s mine. I think Massa is vastly under-rated, still. But we’ll see this year.

      3. Tim Lamkin says:

        If the diffuser would have been equal on all cars at the start of the year….you think JB would have won the title….NO

      4. Nick H says:

        Rubbish…….. Toyota and Williams had a double diffuser at the start of the season, did they dominate the first three races?
        The Brawn car was not as good as the Red Bulls and even Mclaren at most races of the second half of the season yet JB still won the WDC.

    3. Brace says:

      I don’t know how you can put Vettel before Kubica.
      In 2008 when he was trying (since BMW had other plans) to challenge for the title, he made only one mistakes i can remember (aquaplaning at Silverstone).

      On the other hand Vettel last year made countless needless mistakes.

      1. Noelinho says:

        Yes, I thought hard about that, but to me, Kubica disappointed in 2009. In 2008, he was very good, but in a bad car in 2009, he under-whelmed. Yes, Vettel has made a few mistakes, but they will go, and he took a very impressive win at Monza in 2008 in conditions that caught out many more experienced drivers.

        I do accept Kubica may belong in the top drawer, but after last year, I think he needs to show it again.

  7. Ali says:

    This interview has brightened my day. I’m a fan of Nico’s and was worried that Michael would indeed take over the team, so it’s nice to hear Ross also rates Nico highly and wants him to race Michael and go for wins.

    I’m really looking forward to the start of the tests; it’s felt like eons since the end of the 2009 season.

    1. jose says:

      don’t believe everything you hear.

  8. Adrian says:

    This is what I expected from Ross to be honest. He’s always come across to me as a fair and down to earth person, and even though I have never been a Ferrari fan, I had respect for him even when he was there.

    He’s also switched on enough to realise that Schumi won’t be around for more than a few years (does anyone see him extending his 3 year deal??) and that what better way to prepare for that time than to groom his replacement and have him mentored by the outgoing “master”.

    I won’t be supporting Mercedes this season, because I’ll be supporting the 2 Brits at McLaren. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be pleased to see them doing well. After all, they’re still basically the same team I’ve been supporting all these years as BAR/Honda/BrawnGP…!!

  9. Andrew Scadden says:

    I have posted on another topic about this very subject.
    I cannot help but feel if one dominating another or one driver being no.1 driver wasnt an issue then no-one would need talk about it.

    I do feel that Nico (out of Mercedes, Mclaren & Ferrari) will be the one that does get beaten regularly by his team mate. Of course he could just take this year as a learning year by watching MS off the track – how he behaves, trains, brings his garage/mechanics close to him, creates a team within a team etc.

    What ever happens and whoever dominates who I cannot wait for the season to get underway.

    Interesting article thanks James. (as they all are)

    1. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

      Not only is Nico fast, he has a very analytical mind. With an engineering view. Which I think is very appealing to Ross. He does tend to over-think things a bit. I honestly believe Nico will use this to learn and solidify his driving and his approach to getting the best from his car and team by learning from Schumi. He will hold his own and grow as a driver.

  10. MIKE LEA says:

    I think Rosberg might find it pretty difficult to keep pace with Schumacher. There is no doubt Schumi is outstandingly quick, but Ross Brawn’s suggesting that there was never a structure for him to dominate in previous teams seems a bit odd. For example, Herbert wasn’t allowed to see Schumi’s telemetry and data from early in their Benetton days, and Irvine had a clear No.2 contract and didn’t get many tests during 1996. I don’t think Schu actually needed any extra advantages, he’s that good already, but I guess it shows how ruthless and determined he is. Now if it was Hamilton in the other Mercedes…

    1. Sam says:

      Actually, the whole thing is a myth.

      Eddie Irvine said that he was simply faster.

      There wasn’t any structure.

      Ofcourse, people like Rubens would say that just to protect their job and stock.

      Excuses are the best friends of F1 drivers.

      http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/5796.html

    2. Jomy John says:

      Regarding Herbert, those were the days when Schumi was younger. Obviously, if someone looks at your telemetry and after a few modifications goes faster than you – then you wouldn’t like it? It’s just competitive spirit. I think as the years have passed, he has become more relaxed and confident. Massa and Barrichello shared tele with Schumi.

  11. N. Weingart says:

    Brawn’s comments are unbelievable. Brawn installed schumacher as number one at Ferrari and every strategy was used to favor schumacher, and everyone knows this.

      1. Flintelli says:

        I would argue it was Todt who if you like focused on Schumacher to win at all costs.

        Not saying that as a bad thing as it delivered results, but I agree with Ross, you can give both drivers the same equipment and treatment all you want, if one driver is as good as Schey than its irrelavant…..

      2. Zobra Wambleska says:

        To me it was always clear that it was Todt. He’s very ruthless, why do you think Max backed him.

      3. AK says:

        Clearly Todt. He has history with such tactics. He showed similar behaviour in the past in the Paris-Dakar Rallying when he used to be in charge for Peugeot. One year when his two drivers were battling for the win, he decided the winner on a toss (and if I remember correctly, Vatanen was the beneficiary). The driver who would have actually won had to slow down near the finish line and wait for Vatanen to overtake him. I wouldn’t expect any driver to refuse the privilege of being number one or being given a win.

      4. jose says:

        both. brown would have said the same, if it was necessary.

      5. Noelinho says:

        I would agree, but I suspect Brawn’s man-management of a whole team would be better – and an escapade like we saw at Austria wouldn’t have happened. That was clearly all Jean Todt, as anyone could see from the FOM World Feed.

    1. Didn’t Ross Brawn join Ferrari a season or two after Michael Schumacher did? So by the time Ross Brawn joined Ferrari, Michael Schumacher would have already been considered Ferrari’s number one driver, which is probably reasonable, considering he joined Ferrari as two time world champion at time where previous Ferrari drivers hadn’t won much for a considerable amount of time.

      I think Ross Brawn is hedging his bets to say that neither Schumacher or Rosberg will be the favoured driver. They both have something to prove, and are going to be ultra competitive, especially against one another. You’ve got Schumacher, former champion, most accomplished driver ever, coming out of retirement. He cannot just cannot rest on his laurels, he needs to prove he is still competitive, and then you’ve got Rosberg, future potential star who needs to prove that he has what it takes to beat a 7 times world champion.

    2. Ambient Sheep says:

      Don’t forget that when Ross Brawn joined up with Barrichello at Honda, he said words to the effect that “Rubens has nothing to fear; there were sometimes things that went on at Ferrari that I didn’t necessarily agree with.”

  12. Dave P says:

    Hmmm I have heard all of this talk before.. meant with the best intentions… but things rarely translate out in the same way.

    Remember McLaren on Alonso joining… how sweet it would be?

    Things happen that make it difficult to control these things, the first time Rosberg bumps into Schumacher…. things will start to change… equally if either party is humiliated by the other on or off track the same thing will happen..

    It called ‘Events dear boy Events’

    So I take all this propaganda with a pinch of salt…

    1. jose says:

      but i don’t see rosberg being rough enough. He is like too well mannered. Yo need a hard guy. like alan jones, piquet senior, to stand his ground, in front of a lion like schumacher. Massa’s personality goes more with the type. even if his father keke, tells him how to act, there is just so much he can do. In every sense he is alone in the middle of the jungle, at night.

  13. F1ART says:

    Ross always the perfect diplomat!
    I think the reality will be somewhat different!

  14. ben franklin says:

    new to your site.makes very good reading.think schumi will come out better than rosberg coz rosberg is sort of a less driver than alonso hamilton,vettel.just watch.anyway have u got any insight into the mclaren engine situation post merc.will they have learnt enough from the 12C project to go solo engine wise???

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for coming. Tell your friends. I’m looking into this. It’s a very expensive business to build a new F1 engine and the rules will be quite different in 2013. The engine for the road car is being done by an outside engine builder for them

      1. Andrew Scadden says:

        James

        I have referred to this on earlier items on the site – interesting point for discussion.

        Ron Dennis – Mclaren being the “english” ferrari – surely this means Mclaren making the whole car – engine included??
        (sorry maybe off topic but none the less an interesting debate)

      2. James Allen says:

        Well ideally, but in this case I an assure you the engine is made elsewhere

  15. F1ART says:

    Quote
    “Three years wasn’t really my intention but the idea came from the team,” Schumacher explained to Bild.
    Does this mean Rosberg needs three years at finishing school?

    1. jose says:

      not. this means dad needs to find another home for him.

  16. Brace says:

    He sure dominated Austria 2002 on sheer speed and consistency.

  17. David says:

    So why did Brawn allow Schumacher his choice of number if he doesn’t want him to dominate? Seems a small thing but I think it was a fatal move if Brawn is being sincere. It tells you all you need to know about just how unbearable Schumacher must be as a ‘team mate’ – fusses about every detail and uses every strategy to get what he wants. Brawn’s comments strike me as an attempt to reassure Rosberg. But too late kid. His only hope is for Schumacher to be way off the pace, because if they’re close or even he’ll do everything to ensure has the advantage on the track.

    1. Lalit says:

      I think everyone is reading a bit too much into the number issue.

      If people are going side by side at 300 kmph, they should be allowed to have little superstitions if it makes them confident and feel safe.

  18. Pawel says:

    In short: the right approach of the right man.

  19. Pierre says:

    Very clever from Brawn to say it now as if it happpens (what I think), no one will be able to say “it’s because Ross gives driver number 1 statut to his old driver friend Schumi”. It’ll only be because of Schumacher’s talent.

  20. Carlm21 says:

    I think it will be the other way around with Rosberg beating Schumacher.

    1. jose says:

      keep dreaming.

      1. Noelinho says:

        Yes, I struggle to see that happening.

  21. Harvey Yates says:

    “Mercedes boss Ross Brawn . . . makes it clear that he feels that favouring one driver damages the motivation of the other.”

    Nice bit of spin there, Ross. Its never bothered him before.

    If, as he suggests, he never wanted MS to dominate at Ferrari, why did they employ on-the-beach Irvine? They had enough money to buy two of the best but decided not to go down the well trodden path of McLaren and Williams.

    It seems odd then that Rubins saved his best performance until he was out from under.

    If I was Nico I would have been very disappointed with:

    “Brawn spoke of Rosberg benefitting from being Schumacher’s team mate to set him up for life after Schumacher’s retirement.”

    History has shown that if a driver is fast enough he will challenge his team mate regardless of perceived brilliance.

    Always supposing he is allowed to of course.

    That second quote seems to me to be suggesting to Nico that if he follows orders then Brawn will be nice to him later.

    If I was Nico I’d get it in writing and ensure that it is signed before backing off.

    It appears that Merc is confident that their car will be class of the field. That, of course, remains to be seen. I can’t help thinking that if they have underestimated the opposition then they might need to release Nico to run at his own speed.

    It’s building up nicely. Whilst, like Brawn it seems, we make assumptions about who will be in the lead, recent times have shown us that there can be surprises.

  22. Legend says:

    “CLOSE ANALYSIS” – BARCELONA 09

    I think if you examine Barcelona 09 with “close analysis” James, one can really only conclude that Rubens was severely disadvantaged by the strategy he was given compared to Jenson. Don’t get me wrong, Jenson drove a very good race, however Rubens race had a bizarre strategy which reduced his chances of winning massively.

    Rubens was leading the race with Jenson in 2nd place going into the first set of pit stops and also pitted after Jenson, who was his main rival for the race and championship (even this early in the season it was clear Jenson was favourite for the title). Therefore Rubens did not want to be in a position which gave Jenson a chance to beat him without having to overtake him on the track – considering how difficult it is in Barcelona to overtake. He was leading, and he was pitting after Jenson, I remember thinking at the time all he had to do was simply ‘cover’ Jenson’s strategy (within reason).

    By keeping Rubens on a three stop and moving Jenson on to a two stop, that’s exactly what happened – it gave Jenson a chance, a real chance, and was the more optimal strategy.

    The argument that the media presents is that a 3 stopper could have worked as well. On the surface, this is true, but if we use some “close analysis” we see the true story.

    Let’s look at the pit stop laps between Jenson and Rubens for the 66 lap race. Jenson stopped first on lap 18, then Rubens on lap 19. Rubens’ second stop was on lap 31. Then Jenson came in for his final stop on lap 48, and just two laps later Rubens did his final stop. Incredible!
    So we have Jenson do 2 stops in 31 laps (from 18-48), and we have Rubens do 3 stops in 32 laps (from 19-50). It makes little sense, except to disadvantage Rubens big time. It was only thanks to Seb V. spending too much time on the wrong compound that Rubens managed to come 2nd. With his terrible strategy it was only luck that got him 2nd place. Even Mark W. almost ended up in front of him, and he was no where earlier in the race.

    As Rubens was on a 3 stopper I thought his final stop would be very close to the finish, as this would mean less time on the worse tyre compound, and then the strategy would make some sense. However, as you can see the strategy was a very poor one compared to his team-mate.

    I picked all this up during the race last year. At the time, I was very disappointed seeing what Brawn had done to Rubens, because in a sense it was much worse than what Rubens had to deal with at Ferrari. At least there, everyone acknowledged when he had to let his team mate through. Here it was distrubing, because the majority of F1 viewers would not be intelligent enough to identify how Rubens’ race was compromised. Instead of acknowledging that Rubens had little hope of winning on that poor strategy, everyone echoed Brawn’s rather silly comments that Rubens was not fast enough.

    I was surprised when Rubens acknowledged that he was satisfied with the explanations given to him by the team. I had to question his acumen (much like I do Jenson’s following his comments about the new point system which suggests a poor understanding of mathematics – I posted previously in another topic about this). However, after he famously erupted later in the season criticising his team for poor strategy choices, it is almost certain his earlier words were just to keep the team happy and his drive safe, and he really did feel that the team had compromised his race in Barcelona. And as I have explained, he was justified in having a feeling of being severely disadvantaged.

    1. adam says:

      I don’t know if you were part of it, but over on the Autosport forum there was a mammoth 40 page thread on this very subject.
      The ins and outs of it are a lot more complex than at first it appears.

      1. Legend says:

        Thanks for the tip Adam.
        I had a look at it now. The problem I find with a lot of forum discussion is that too many people with a seeming IQ of 20 add nothing to the discussion except their own biases. The reality was Rubens’ nonsensical strategy cost him the race and for Brawn to say it was because Rubens was not fast enough just added insult to injury, Rubens even set the fastest lap.

    2. Daniel says:

      I agree 100%. What do you suppose Brawn’s agenda was with Jenson? I mean, would he care which one of thow two drivers took the World Championship? I’m just curious as to what yu think the reason is for choosing Jenson over Rubens? A 2010 contract perhaps? Personally I rate Rubens higher than Jenson, but can see the other argument too…

      1. Legend says:

        Cheers Daniel. I wrote my ‘close analysis’ comment because of what James Allen wrote, I quote from above: “Brawn made some decisions last season which went Jenson Button’s way during races and which irritated Rubens Barrichello, but close analysis of the decisions shows that they allowed Barrichello a chance to come out on top, but he failed to take it.”

        I don’t think my comment has anything contentious in it. It is analysis based on the observable facts and not speculation or possible untrue excuses given.

        I think the reason Jenson was favoured is clear. Rubens initially only had a four race contract for the start of 09. Once the season began, it was clear that Jenson was faster than Rubens and had more points on the board. With Brawn concerned about the other teams catching up on speed it appeared prudent to give Jenson as much points as possible. It was disappointing, but I could understand the team’s perspective. They could not have predicted that Rubens would turn it around (apparently by switching to the same brakes as Jenson, rather than the slower brakes he was on) and would become the faster of the two later on in the season.

        James, your blog is superb and thanks for giving us your viewpoints and all a chance to add to it with our comments. I really appreciate your efforts. However, as I have demonstrated with some ‘close analysis’, your assertion is incorrect, therefore I suggest you put in a correction in your next blog entry!

    3. monktonnik says:

      I saw an analysis showing the lap times of both drivers. It also gave on indication of tyre choice and fuel load.

      Both drivers were on a 3 stop, and I think Rubens had the optimum fuel, this was clearly mentioned in the BBC commentary as far as I can remember.

      It showed pretty clearly that for whatever reason they switched Jenson, Rubens just didn’t put in the lap times. I am not sure what evidence you can bring in that is clearer than lap time, but it seems clear to me that Jenson did a better job on what was an interim strategy. If they hadn’t switched Jenson, they wouldn’t have won anything.

      To paraphrase Ross Brawn, Rubens posted the 11th fastest race lap of the day, and you are never going to win if you do that.

      1. James Allen says:

        It was to do with where they would come out from their stop relative to Rosberg, who wasn’t going very quick in a heavy car, as I recall it

      2. Legend2 says:

        Monktonnik, thanks for contributing to the disscussion, however, as I said in my comment: “Here it was distrubing, because the majority of F1 viewers would not be intelligent enough to identify how Rubens’ race was compromised.”

        The issue was not which driver was faster, it was the fact that Rubens almost certainly would have won the race if given a decent strategy or if given the same strategy as Jenson. Since Seb V. and Felipe had some problems, even with a poor strategy Rubens would still have won if Jenson was also on a poor strategy. Also, you seem to be confused about which grand prix we are talking about, Rubens actually set the fastest lap in Barcelona.

        James, I appear to have been banned from commenting. Irrespective of Nico’s position, Rubens would still have been in a better position than Jenson if they gave him a decent strategy. Nico stopped on lap 25 for his first stop, and would anyhow have been on light fuel, so that explanation from your source does not add up.

      3. James Allen says:

        You’ve not been banned

  23. Chaitanya says:

    I have no doubt that Nico is almost at Hamilton-level. For some reason he has consistently been underrated by many outside the F1 circle who forget that he has been highly sought after by McLaren, Williams and now we hear of Honda. Clearly, the former GP2 champion impressed many paddock-insiders with his skills and racecraft. (He was adept at dragging that Williams into positions it really should never have been in).

    1. Gavin says:

      at hamilton level? webber smacked him silly pace wise when they were together. hamilton beat alonso in his first year.

      1. Noelinho says:

        He’s not at Hamilton’s level. How many podiums did he get last year? Not nearly as many as he should have scored. The team didn’t always help, but Singapore springs to mind.

        Driving over the pit land exit – not the cleverest thing to do.

    2. jose says:

      it’s not what patrick head said. In the middle of the season he said, ” i think we are in boutsen territory”. For those who don’t know who boutsen was, He was a belgian driver, at williams in the late 80′s. When mansell drove the williams at the end of 1990, he lowered his best lap time with just a couple of adjustments by more than a second!! And head said, damm, the car was good. i imagine he used other words.
      Some people at williams thought this year, that the car was able to get a victory in more capable hands. I agree. Same with toyota.

      1. Chaitanya says:

        So in the middle of the season Patrick Head insults the driver that he paid $10 million to hold on to (to keep him from switching to Mclaren – they eventually took Kovaleinen – as well as Honda) by saying or implying that he should be driving 1 second a lap quicker than he actually was?

        Really?

        I find that extremely hard to believe.

        Show me the link.

      2. jose says:

        The link!! there are places outside internet where you can get information.
        Are you sure williams paid 10 million euro? It must have been mclaren’s offer, but it was nico’s father who didn’t want to be there. He thought he wasn’t going to get a fair treatment in hamilton’s team.
        It’s fair that you find it dificult to believe. But just open your mind. Watch rosberg, knowing what head said. Nobody invents a comment like this one. It is the kind of comment he says off the record, that afterwards get out in a magazine, a blog of a guy that don’t hold very much, or somwhere else. I don’t remember who it was, but could have been nigel roebouck, or peter windsor. It was british, that’s for sure.

  24. Dominic J says:

    Generic Barrichello rant – whilst Button drove superbly to win in Barcelona, Rubens was on a strategy that required lots of overtaking at the worst circuit for it, historically.

    1. James Allen says:

      True but even his engineer admitted he had the chance to do it

      1. Brace says:

        But why didn’t they change both drivers to that strategy?

      2. James Allen says:

        Because Button would have come out of the pits behind Rosberg who was on a long middle stint

      3. Legend says:

        I suggest you both read my “close analysis” post above. Rubens’ strategy compared to the rest of the field was bizarre to say the least.

      4. Jeremy says:

        What I found odd about Barcelona is that, up to lap 50 when their fuel loads became equal for the rest of the race, JB was lighter for 35 of those 50 laps, compared the RBs 15. Slightly odd for Rubens being on the ‘aggressive’ strategy. Whatever way you look at it, Rubens was stuffed there, he had track position, it didn’t matter if he came out behind Nico at his first stop, JB would’ve been behind him and they’d have had the same amount of stops to go.

      5. Mike T says:

        JB was just to fast on heavy fuel in the middle stint. Rubens just couldn’t lap at the optimum laptime to jump JB. I think we should credit jb for this win as he pulled this one out of the bag by pure driving IMO. There was no number 1 status situation in this race

      6. enzofan says:

        Yes Rubens had a chance to win the race but it made no sense in him having a 3 stop strategy when he was racing Button, all he had to do was cover Jenson so as to stop 1 lap later that way Jenson would have to overtake him on the track, which is very difficult when you have the same car. This would have almost guaranteed a Rubens a win.

    2. Curro says:

      I think you have to consider the psychological aspect too. Rubens thinks everything’s under control and has the race in the bag. Suddenly he sees the team changing Jenson’s strategy but not his. He thinks something weird is going on and that reflects immediately in his laptimes. The team effectively screwed Rubens on that one. It’s all in the head and historically he’s not been the strongest in that area.

  25. schumi vs ros says:

    schumi has different ideas though:

    http://i45.tinypic.com/14xec20.jpg

  26. Timem1 says:

    All this talk about Schumi being placed in a #1 role at Ferrari and receiving special benefits etc is really off the mark. Schumi joined a floundering Ferrai in ’96. They hadn’t won a title in 20 years and were a mess. The Brawn, Todt, Byrne, Schumi braintrust came in and made that team into what it ultimately became, a multiple championship juggernaut. Schumi earned whatever special treatment he may have received. Driving a good car over the course of a full F1 season is a skill. Not many drivers have that ability. Taking a team that is in the shape that Ferrari was in in ’96 and working four hard years (the time it took to turn the team around and win the first WDC in 2000) is another skill altogether that even fewer drivers possess. Schumi worked his tail off to help bring Ferrari out of the doldrums and into the glory years of 2000-2004. The team is still benefitting from the work that Schumi, Byrne, Todt, and Byrn did during their tenure there. It is ridiculous for people to slag off Michael as having won solely due to special treatment etc. The guy is a once in a lifetime talent. Love him or hate him we are lucky to be able to witness his successes on the track. People should appreciate what Schumi has accomplished in his career.

  27. rpaco says:

    Ross has obviously see the chorus of discontent and scepticism and is covering his ass in public.

    He must know though, that he will be watched like a hawk throughout the season for the slightest smell of unfairness to Nico.

  28. Buck says:

    I wonder if Nico’s cuteness keeps him from being respected more (I doubt he likes that Britney nickname). Regardless, I would suspect that the pressure is on for him to come out swinging at Schumacher in the first rounds and beat him while Michael is still getting back up to speed. Otherwise his confidence could take a beating, making that first win a lot harder to achieve.

    1. jose says:

      i don’t think michael would need much time to adapt. If you look at his f1 debut, he found the limit in a couple of laps, and was faster than de cesaris in his first gp. Some would say rosberg is beter than the italian. And this is when we all see he is overated. He hasn’t achieved much so far, to rate him better than andrea,

      1. Buck says:

        You may be correct. However, I don’t think comparing this situation to Michael’s debut can really tell that much. This time around, Michael has not been racing for three years, the cars have changed quite a bit since his last race and testing is limited. But more than that, Schumacher himself is more of an unknown entity than Rosberg at this point. The skills may still be there, but is the hunger? The drive, the willingness to take big risks for a couple extra points?

  29. Flintelli says:

    James, I know Brawn had started work on the current Merc early on last year, however….what inside knowledge will Mercedes have on the current McLaren that they can take with them to Brawn.

    They must know at the very least if the McLaren will be a good car or not?

    Can you shed any light please?

    Cheers

    1. James Allen says:

      Well that’s a very good question. The notion of a move away from McLaren to Brawn started at Silverstone and grew progressively. The aero numbers are the key and maybe the later ones were kept a little closer to McLaren’s chest, I would imagine. I’ve been hearing that the McLaren and Ferrari aero numbers aren’t that fantastic, but it’s impossible to say if there is any truth to it as there is no way of corroborating it, so we will have to wait and see.

      1. Sam says:

        How about Mercedes and Red Bull numbers James?
        But last week, Stephen said Ferrari were getting good numbers. I guess that was just some PR.

      2. bond007 says:

        no james no….. this time i want ferrari n alonso to win :( ….. now i am kinda losing the hope after ur comments …….btw ur twitter is full of “only” alonso’s comments ;)

  30. John MacMicking says:

    I’m sorry James, despite my respect for RB – I think this time he’s blowing smoke. There was a PR issue when he took Nico’s #3 away and now he had to attempt to difuse it. That’s why this came so soon after. Superstitous, come on. The only thing I beleive MS is missing this year is the ‘#2′ clause in his teamamtes contract.

    But if Rubino & Eddie accept Ross’ comments this time – then so will I!

    1. Sam says:

      Eddie has said many times that the guy was just faster. Feel free to do a search on ESPN f1 website. Nothing to do with contractual or whatever they called it.
      It was just an excuse to protect your stock when you are an F1 driver.
      That’s how Rubens survived after being murdered by MS in terms of sheer pace.

      Here is some extra information if you want to know the facts.
      In the 54 qualifying sessions of the 2006 season, Massa was genuinely quicker than
      Schumacher only once – in Q2 at Monza, by 0.128s.
      Micheal’s average advantage over Massa in those 54 sessions was in excess of half a second (fuel corrected).
      That’s a staggering degree of superiority over a driver we now know is very fast, You could say Massa has improved but he was quicker on the tracks that Massa owns. That’s scary.

    2. Schumiisback says:

      Well, eddie says it more emphatically than brawn. http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/5796.html

  31. Spenny says:

    There is a big difference between then and now. Shuey knows he does not have a long term career – Nico knows this too.

    Nico can bide his time and not get too worried, because if he keeps his nose clean, the team will come to him, next year or the year after or the year after that. Schuey may well see his role as mentor.

    It is not in MercGPs interest to decimate their next appointed one and I can see Brawn being interested in making Nico the next Massa, who kept his head down, worked hard and came good.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bang on.

  32. Dave Roberts says:

    I think Rosberg flatters to deceive and will be left floundering against Schumacher. No matter what he says he isn’t happy with the prospect of Schumacher as a team mate instead of Jenson.

    In addition having just listened to Ross being interviewed by Jake Humphrey he gushed like a guy being re-united with his first love.

    Was Rosberg not wearing a cap because he hasn’t got a personal sponsor or haven’t Mercedes had time to print a cap with the number 4 on it?

    1. jose says:

      i thought you were going to say, with the number two on it.

  33. Nick H says:

    “(At Ferrari) Michael dominated because he was the best. There was never a structure that enabled him to dominate.”

    Im sure Rubens Barrechello will have something to say about that, he has been quite critical of Schumacher in recent times a dont think Ross Brawns comments will please Rubens.

    1. jose says:

      he is just talking. At the begining of the season it is always the same. In 07 at mclaren, it was the same kind of talking. Hamilton is here to learn from alonso. But when everybody saw that hamilton was so fast, war started. At mercedes is going to be the same. The only diference is rosberg is not as good as hamilton. So if schumacher is at his best as brown says, it is schumi’s team.

    2. Sam says:

      May be Ross Brawn wouldn’t be too pleased with the fact that Rubens was blaming Ferrari when he wasn’t a match to his ex-teammate.
      Eddie said complete opposite to what Rubens said.

  34. Brandon says:

    I also agree that Nico is blisteringly fast. Not a fan of any driver these days but he is at least as good as massa or any other driver that can lose a wdc by 1 point. Seems that way to me especially in 09 at the start

  35. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

    I do think Ross’ comments are a bit disingenuous. At Benneton the car was designed around Michael and his preferences. So much so that the team refused to believe the drivers that replaced Michael when they claimed the car was undrivable. Much the same occurred at Ferrari. The car was designed with Michael in mind. (if I recall, he likes a pointy very skittish car. Lots of oversteer.) The other driver had to adapt as best he could.

    I don’t think it was a bad strategy since Scumi was head and shoulders better than any of his teammates. Now that Ross wants to nurture and develop Nico for the future, he will have to be more neutral in his approach.

    1. James Allen says:

      It was very effective too – Irvine and Barrichello may have felt demotivated, but Schuey won five straight titles. Not sure car was designed around MS as you as you say it was. The cars just got better and that actually mean Irvine was able to get closer to Schuey on lap time, ironically

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Good point here. One thing I’ve always wondered about is Eddie Irvine’s ability to take Mika H. to (IIRC) the last round the year Schumi broke his leg.

        By itself, this tends to refute the notion that the car (that year at least) wasn’t built solely with Schumi in mind. Was the car so good that it made Eddie look better than he might have? Does it mean that Eddie was better than he’s given credit for? Does it say that Mika and McLaren weren’t so on their game that season?

        Maybe all of the above? Your thoughts James?

      2. Harvey Yates says:

        James,

        There was a lot of talk at the time that the Ferrari had been designed to be ‘pointy’ to suit MS’ driving style. Was that all spin as well?

        I’m getting to the stage where I feel I can’t believe anything.

        I remember seeing a print-out of his throttle positions on a corner with one from Hakkers for comparison and it did show a certain lack of smoothness. MS was on and off the pedal all the way through. There was a comment that such information was of little use to other teams as the car had to be designed from the word go to handle that way.

        More spin I suppose.

        At the time I thought the reduced gap between the two Ferrari drivers was down to MS not having to try all that hard. He always seemed to have speed, grip and traction in hand but only used it when he needed to.

        It seemed that the Ferrari of WCC days was well ahead of the others. We were back to Williams/Honda days. Mind you, without the drivers competing with one another there was no need to lap everyone else in the field.

        And Irvine demotivated? Surely not. He was taken on as clear number two. He had nothing to do but park his car away from MS’ in the pits. He knew exactly what he was letting himself in for from the time he signed on the dotted line. He walked away from Ferrari with evey bit of the motivation he took into it. And it wasn’t in a big bag.

        He had talent. I think there is little argument against that. The only question is how much demand he made of it.

        RB, well that might be another matter. If he believed he had an equal chance to win as MS then he was in a lonely place.

        Do we believe RB when he suggests that he has changed tactics? The fact that he has a skilled driver as number two would tend to indicate that he has but, as you say, MS wasn’t confirmed until after Nico signed. He might, in some way, have been ‘forced’ upon RB.

        Ross has a brilliant on screen persona. He comes over as chatty, confiding and open. That sort of presence doesn’t come easily or without training. Is that the real RB? Or is he one of the leaders of the Ferrari years?

        What is he like, James?

      3. James Allen says:

        He’s as he seems, but beneath the surface he is very tough. If you look at some of the decisions he has taken and the way he saved the team last year then pulled Mercedes away from McLaren and towards him, he’s a heck of an operator.

      4. jose says:

        depressed!! they should be so happy that they were given the chance to drive for the best team in the history of the sport, with possibly the best driver as a teammate.
        It’s a shame though, than on the rare ocasion rubens was faster, came the little napoleon to damage the show. irvine was never faster. but at least he had the guts to not lie to himself.

  36. Tom Weaver says:

    It’s really interesting hearing Brawn say this, given that favouring one driver (Schumacher) brought him & Ferrari 5 consecutive titles.

    Do you think Brawn also feels Schumacher is not quite at the level he was during that title run, and hence can’t back him alone? Or does he genuinely believe competition between team mates is the way to go?

    Had they known Schumacher was available prior to hiring Rosberg, would they have still hired Rosberg, or gone for a more subservient no 2?

    1. jose says:

      he is a clear number 2. We are talking about it now, but if schumacher is at his best, as brown is sure will be, he is going to be the usual number 2 driver. To me he is overrated, and i can’t understand why? his looks? His name? I don’t now. If schumacher is not at his best, then there might be a fight to know who gets the best bits of equipment first.

  37. Aleks in Houston says:

    James, do you get the impression that some of your readers are out to impress you? is Legend’s “close analysyis” aimed at receiving an invite to change career perhaps?

    Great article James, as usual. I find the comments are a great indication as to the quality of your blog as you have attracted a loyal and educated following. A tribute to you sir.

    How about a writing contest? You could assume the mantle of mentor as per Schumacher and one of the lucky readers gets to be Rosberg for the day.

    1. James Allen says:

      What a great idea! Thanks

  38. Silverstoned says:

    Brawn has settled down so well into the role of team principal..

    Wonder why he didn’t want to be principal at Ferrari??

    1. Marcus says:

      I thought he did want to but Montezemolo and/or Todt did not and that’s why Ross went to Honda after his one year sabbatical. James?

  39. Bloke says:

    hmmmmmm. Methinks Mr Brawn speaks with a pointy tongue

    Nico signs for the team, and Ross hails him as “a great talent”.

    Schumi signs and Ross backs him to win the championship and now describes Nico as “not finished”.

    Nico signs first, and is listed as the number 3 in the FIA listings.

    Schumi decides he wants no. “3″ – and gets it. Rosberg drops to being number 4, and will be listed below Schumi in the FIA teamsheets.

    Nico signed first, and has the first day of testing of the new car to himself (track time all important due to the testing ban).

    Schumi decides he wants to drive too on the first day with the new car…and gets that too, interrupting Nicos first run.

    Nico, Old Chum, I would be worried if I were you – Ross does indeed want Schumacher to dominate. Ignore the baloney, your numbers up Im afraid, and it has ‘no.2′ written all over it.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Excellent post! I 100% agree.

      This is Ross soft-soaping Nico. He knows that Nico must be hurt at the moment and this is his way of getting him to keep his chin up.

      Ross is also attempting to bat away media pressure. Favouring MS will have to come into play to if they are to take on Alonso/Ferrari and Hamilton/McLaren. He’s just preparing the media for the eventuality of a “natural No. 1″.

      Ross understands what won him 7 championships between 1994-2004. Wrapping the team around the world’s best driver and having on side a quickish no. 2.

  40. Peter says:

    Brawn’s correct. Schumacher was only number 1 because he was by far the best. It really is as simple as that. People just look for desperate excuses to try and take the glean off Schumacher’s immense stats.

    1. jose says:

      i agree. you can’t be number one if you don’t have the speed.

  41. JohnBt says:

    MS is back simply because he needs to clarify his worthiness as his 2000 to 2004 WDCs were questionable. Comments made from the true hardcore fans can’t be all wrong, in fact most, if not all were spot on. You can fool some people some of the time but not all of them though. But I feel Ross is not 100% confident of MS dominance hence better not be overwhelmed that MS will be at the top. CLEVER man.

    1. Sam says:

      Ha ha ha hardcore fans? Care to look at the facts?
      As I posted in other comment I won’t rewrite it again.
      In the 54 qualifying sessions of the 2006 season, Massa was genuinely quicker than
      Schumacher only once – in Q2 at Monza, by 0.128s.
      Micheal’s average advantage over Massa in those 54 sessions was in excess of half a second (fuel corrected).
      That’s a staggering degree of superiority over a driver we now know is very fast, You could say Massa has improved but MS was quicker on the tracks that Massa owns.
      A few years ago, Eddie Irvine said “if a few of us are a three tenth faster than what we can do best, we will be legends.”
      Now, Massa is a championship contender, fast enough to give trouble to anyone in same machinery. If you are over half a second faster than a guy like that, you are on a different planet.
      Team bosses recognized him as the best and tried to get MS on board. If you think arm-chair fans know more, you are just being very funny.

  42. Irish conor says:

    Because button lucked his way into the most unworthy championship in history. Has to b worst wdc in 30 years. Just look at 2nd half of last year when his dd advantage gone and why did NODODY want him when Honda went burst in December 08

    1. MartinWR says:

      Boring.

    2. Ambient Sheep says:

      Apparently he had several offers from other teams, but wanted to stay with Honda if it could survive because he knew just how good the new car was going to be.

  43. like2cf1 says:

    Reading thru the comments, it just came to my mind…suspension…hmmm….could it be…

  44. Paul Mc says:

    I like Nico he doesnt seem to “up himself” like some drivers are. I hope they have a close fight this year, Nico is one of the gems of the current crop of drivers.

    I want Schumi to beat him though :)

    James, as RB is a fan of the blog, i reckon you should try and get him to post a blog or two here..

  45. Ambient Sheep says:

    Although I have a lot of respect for Ross, I’m another one who can’t really agree with him saying “There was never a structure that enabled him to dominate”.

    Here’s a little story that I don’t see mentioned much.

    I remember, after Austria 2002, there’d been a lot of hoo-hah about what exactly was written in Michael’s contract. After a lot of griping, it eventually came out that his contract said that the team would give preference to the driver with the greatest number of points after the first three races.

    Come 2003, and the third race was the rain-hit Brazilian Grand Prix, a race that Rubens had never won. Going into the race, Schumacher had 10 points, Rubens had 2. However, Schumi spun off on the river running across the track and Rubens, who’d been on pole, was in the lead by twenty seconds having set several fastest laps.

    Now we all know how that race went as the rain came back in, so it’s entirely possible that things might have changed, but had Rubens stayed in his healthy lead, he would have not only won his home race for the first time in eleven years of trying, but he’d have exited the third race of the season with 12 points to Schumacher’s 10.

    However, that didn’t happen, because he ran out of fuel on lap 47, something I hadn’t remembered happening to a driver since Jean Alesi’s notorious goof at Australia 1997. Not a pit-stop refuelling cock-up either, far from it, Rubens’ pit-stop had taken an awfully long time to arrive.

    You draw your own conclusions. I did, and was surprised that nobody else picked up on this re. what had been revealed the previous year about the contract situation.

    At least Ross had the grace to look very ashamed as he tried to explain to the ITV pit reporter what had happened. Come to think of it, I guess that’d have been our very own James Allen…who’ll probably come along now and tell me I’ve got it wrong. In a way, I hope I have, but it seemed very clear to me at the time what had happened.

    1. Jomy John says:

      Your contract story is cr*p. I think in the years preceding 2003, Schumacher has shown that he can consistently compete for wins throughout the season. Everybody goes through ups and downs, and just cuz Schumi goes through a bad phase for the first 4-5 races, doesn’t mean his co-driver gets the better deal. You dont gain respect just by winning World Championsips or putting on great overtaking moves, its obtained by working Miracles. Three years after retirement people are still talking about Schumi and wanting him to race – What does it say about him?? [mod]

      1. Ambient Sheep says:

        Don’t get me wrong – and I probably should have said this in my earlier post – I admire Schumacher for his undeniable talent and what he has done with it, and I’m thrilled to see him back on the grid. No really, I am! I was very disappointed when his neck let him down last summer. I can’t wait to see him back.

        That doesn’t mean that I don’t have reservations about some of the things he’s done in his career, but then, I could say the same about most of the top drivers on the grid.

        I suppose there was a time many years ago when I had a very dim view of him, but James’ first book on him, “Driven to Extremes”, helped me understand the guy a lot more, and after that I developed a grudging respect for him. By the time he retired, I was sorry to see him go.

        As for “my” contract story, well I wish I could give you a source for it, but it’s a long time ago and I can no longer remember. It wasn’t just some gossip off an internet forum though; I did read it somewhere fairly reputable.

        It was basically said in reply to all those unpleasantly aggressive questions he was asked after Austria 2002, stuff like “Are you the better driver Michael, or do you just have the better contract?” which one person asked him, or just the point-blank “Do you have your number one status written into your contract?” These nasty questions understandably riled him, for as you say, he didn’t really need any of that to be successful, not with his talent.

        Eventually someone let it be known that, while he didn’t have number one status written into his contract as such, it did have the clause I described above in it. Apparently Irvine had been happy to have an explicit No.1/No.2 written into the contracts, but Barrichello had refused to accept that (remember all that stuff he said at the time of joining Ferrari about how he’d have equal status in the team?). The solution? The “best after three races” clause that was in both their contracts, which in practice meant that Schumacher, with his superior talent, would always be given number one status very early in the season.

        Except in 2003, when Rubens ran out of fuel when it was about to be his turn…

        Is it true? I don’t know for sure – I’m just telling a story that I believe to be true, given what I read and saw at the time and then drawing my own conclusions, which is all I can do.

      2. Harvey Yates says:

        There have been some examples of teams limiting one driver’s abilities to compete with the favoured driver.

        Many – me included I have to say – dismissed Mansell’s whinge that he was getting inferior equipment to Piquet as, well, a Mansell whinge. I was no big fan of his and thought he was making excuses. A friend, a rabid (the only kind then) NM supporter, produced speed trap timing stats which showed that there was a considerable difference between the two cars which could not be down to driver ability. Indeed, I believed Honda when they said they allowed the drivers their choice of engine.

        My friend was over the moon when NM took over the spare car, which was set up for Piquet, and trounced him. A little later Honda were forced into admitting that they did indeed modify the engine output depending on the individual driver. Outrageous conduct, as near to cheating as you could get.

        I heard a suggestion that that spat cost Williams the Honda engine.

        25 years ago I would not have believed that a team would put obstacles in the way of one of their drivers competing with another. Now I am certain it has gone on.

        I have no evidence that Ferrari ensured that Rubens could not beat MS. To the question ‘Were they capable of such underhand tactics?’ I would have to answer a resounding ‘Yes.’

        We had Rubens whinging about the support he got from Ferrari much more strongly than Mansell ever did about Williams/Honda. But most press reports suggested it was his Latin temperament and that the unfortunate ‘accidents’ were just that: accidents. After all, Brummies and Latins are virtually identical, aren’t they.

        McLaren treated Prost and Senna identically as far as possible and that made for some exciting racing. 1988, for all that there was just the one car in it, was one of the most memorable seasons I’ve ever experienced. The Todt years at Ferrari were some of the worst.

        I’m not anti Ferrari nor am I anti Todt. The two together though . . .

  46. mvi says:

    I think Ross Brawn’s public statement of no favouritism towards the drivers is a message for Schumacher as much as for the public and Rosberg. It puts everyone on notice on what to expect, and any deviation will be spotted not only in the team but by fans who will make it a public issue. Brawn appears decisive, sincere and confident of winning, his attitude makes sense for the team and the drivers.

    It is however interesting that Schumacher is talking about staying beyond 3 years at the same time that Brawn is saying he must eventually retire leaving a strong Rosberg on the team.

    Maybe Schumacher will play fairest of the fair this time around, as many will be looking for the tiniest bit of unsportsmanlike behaviour from him. His own children are now at an age when they will be watching and asking questions and he cannot lose their respect. (He loves children and the sad plight of many in the world has inspired him to do some major charity work.)

  47. Lockster says:

    You are absolutely spot on.

    At the end of ’95, Schumacher was a double world champion and clearly the class driver of his time, he could have had his pick out of any team that he wanted.

    Jean Todt recognised that MS was the only driver with the speed, the commitment and the ability to galvanise and motivate a team to do what needed to be done.

    While Schumacher would have easily won the next few WDC titles had he signed with Williams who had the fastest car by a MILE, he instead agreed to take on the monumental challenge of rebuilding the once-great marque.

    The faith MS showed in Ferrari (and ultimately Jean Todt’s ability to provide the infrastrucure and, just as importantly the culture required to turn things around at Ferrari) was rewarded with absolute support.

    In many respects, removing the “Teammate” issue just allowed Schumacher to focus more on the massive task ahead of him.

    When people say “Schumacher has never truly proven himself because he has never had a top-line teammate” I laugh because most of the other “Greats” such as Fangio, Prost, Senna etc were continually searching for which team was going to be the fastest and changing teams accordingly, but schumacher CHOSE to help rebuild a struggling team rather than the easy option of joining the team with the fastest car, so I think he deserves even greater respect that these other drivers.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think that is a very fair assessment. People who criticise Schumacher for his modus operandi forget how far behind Ferrari had fallen when he went there.

      1. Harvey Yates says:

        I don’t think opting for Ferrari with their (promise of) RB, RB, Todt, lots of money was much of a choice. He’d have been a fool not to go for it.

        Ferrari were on the up (it was only their dreadful gearbox that costs MS wins in his first season) and what other driver in the pitlane would have refused? Williams may or may not have been on his wish list but I doubt the same amount of money was on theirs.

        Further, with Williams a driver always seemed to me to be a bit of an inconvenience. The worst thing you could be in their eyes was WDC.

        That said, even if it was the greatest bit of self sacrifice since the Tale of Two Cities, I still think it doesn’t have any bearing on his conduct when racing. One does not excuse the other.

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