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Rosberg expects Schumacher backlash in Spanish Grand Prix
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Rosberg expects Schumacher backlash in Spanish Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 May 2010   |  4:58 pm GMT  |  37 comments

Nico Rosberg said this afternoon that he expects his team mate Michael Schumacher to come back strongly in this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, after a disappointing start to the season, now he is armed with the updated Mercedes car.

Rosberg: Not relaxing with Schumacher around (Darren Heath)


Rosberg has had the edge on Schumacher at every race so far and in China the gap between them was significant. But both men believe that this was an aberration and Rosberg expects a tough fight from Schumacher from now on, starting this weekend,

“He was very fast in Malaysia and China was a complete anomaly, so we need to be very careful,” said Rosberg. “I’m in the mindset that Michael will be strong here and that it’s going to be a battle for the rest of the season. I’m convinced that I can be on his level, or near it anyways.”

Rosberg confirmed that he will also run the longer wheelbase car, aimed at correcting weight distribution problems and that the two cars will be the same. Another key new part on the car is a revised air intake, quite different from anything we’ve seen on an F1 car for a while. *

“All of the changes will make our car faster. We have some inherent characteristics especially with the new front tyre, in some places we struggle with too much understeer. I struggle as much as Michael with that, it’s not my way of driving. So for both of us if we can improve that characteristic it will benefit both of us just as much.”

Schumacher spoke to us shortly afterwards and gave an honest assessment of his problems so far and spoke of his optimism for the new package,
“In China my performance was not good,” he said. “I was angry with myself. It sticks out there whereas other races were on the right track. I’m optimistic that things will go in the right direction. I didn’t expect to come here and blast everyone away, it’s a process and the process is going good (sic). It’s like the stock markets; they have a trend upwards and they have resets and China was my reset. ”

Although he said that the car hadn’t suited his style of driving Schumacher refused to accept that the car was responsible for his problems. I asked him if he saw this coming when he signed up in December, not having time to consider the impact of the narrow front tyres,
“The cars are what they are and you have to find a way to drive around it,” he said. “That’s how it was in the past and how it is today.”

Schumacher also added an interesting point in response to Jackie Stewart’s comment recently that the current field of F1 drivers is as good as at any time.
“I don’t think it’s higher, ” said Schumacher, picking out Mika Hakkinen and Fernando Alonso as two drivers he competed against who were on the highest level. “What you do have though is more cars on a more even playing field and the good drivers are in those cars so you have a higher level of competition.”

Schumacher is aware that some people will paint this as a make or break weekend for him, with the updated car, but he’s not looking at it that way. And neither is Rosberg who publicly at least, is saying that he’s not going to have it all his own way for much longer.

* Don’t miss the LG Technical Report tomorrow here on the JA on F1 site in which we will look in detail at the updates on the cars in Barcelona and analyse what effect they are having.

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37 Comments
  1. Kyle H says:

    Respect to Schumy for being honest that the car was not the problem in China. He even admitted on the Saturday after qualy that he and Rosberg had an almost identical setup for qualifying.

    It seems he basically destroyed all sets of tyres within a few laps (especially the inters)due to being over aggressive on the throttle out of slow corners, then stuggled massively for pace afterwards as a result.

    Hope to see him on the podium this weekend in Spain. Button for the win.

  2. f1jocker12 says:

    so, if shumi is still slower than rosberg, the process is in progress… hahaha… I thought that, when you are a 7 times world champ, you get a car, accommodate with it, and drive faster and faster…

    I’m curios how far can shumi go with his complaints within merc team, until accepting the fact that today, rosberg is faster…

    1. Michael Brown says:

      Well “today”, my friend, Rosberg was half a second slower than Schumacher in 1st Free Practice, and only just behind the McLarens. It’s only free practice, but it looks like Schumacher is back in business.

      Also, he’s never made any complaints about the team and fully accepted that the problems were his responsibility.

      Hopefully the Schumacher haters will now go an crawl back under the rock from where they came.

      1. f1jocker12 says:

        wait until sunday to see how “bankrupt” Schumacher is…
        if you think that merc chose to build him a new car because he was too nice, you are completely wrong…

      2. Michael Brown says:

        Schumacher 4th, Rosberg 13th and almost lapped by Schumacher. You and all the other Schumacher haters were wrong. Schumacher is back and in great style.

      3. Todt, Jean says:

        It is with great sympathy that we recognise the hurt of the ferrari fan, yet it was the right choice for Michael to return to the sport he loves and show his fans that he remains the driver to beat. I commend you Mr M. Brown for your loyalty.

        We look forward to more great performances from the world champion.

  3. Matt says:

    Sounds like good mind games from rosberg. Puts more pressure on Schumacher. If his team mate is fast – well it’s only expected. If he is slow then the failure is even worse.

  4. Al says:

    I think part of the problem is that Schu was with Ferrari for so long that he would be used to the way the Ferrari was set out, muscle memory etc. Therefore, I do think than when he gets his setup the way he wants it, he’ll be more competetive.

    Not sure that he will be amazing, but competetive.

  5. David Smith says:

    James.

    I know this is off topic but what is your take on ferrari removing the ‘barcode’ design? what they have ended up with now looks more significant to represent Marlboro?
    I’m sure you’ll write the best article about it. Keep up the good work.

    1. TM says:

      I’ve been hoping for a brief article from James on this too.
      Montezemolo said it was nonsense. I think the logical question back to him should have been; what on earth is (or was) the barcode doing there then? The red, yes is Ferrari, but a barcode? It’s so obvious that it was to sell cigarettes, as is the thing they’ve replaced it with, just like the ‘Bitten n Hisses’ thing was for Jordan.

      1. Steve Merc says:

        And given that Ferrari has said its all groundless nonsense… erm… why have they removed it??
        .. ..

        I see.. to remove ‘speculation’.. ah .. now i understand… LMFAO!

  6. Relativity says:

    James, can’t wait for the LG Technical Report tomorrow.

    If possible, please address one question I have regarding the longer wheelbase Mercedes. If the monocoque is homologated this year, how did Mercedes increase the wheelbase? Changing the wishbone mouting points is one way but that also affects aero performance.

    I am hoping that this weekend is a big turnaround for Schumi’s efforts in getting to grips with the W01.

    1. lip_iceman says:

      I think they changed the wishbone design itself, not the mounting points. Those points are part of the chassis I think.

      For anyone who’s interested:

      Merc’s air box design is quite exciting – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/83340

      I posted in response to James’ “how cars will look in the future” series a few months ago predicting exactly that air box variant. I think it works to reduce pressure under the rear wing (as opposed to removing flow to the top of the wing in its conventional pos) – more downforce.

  7. Spencer says:

    Very interseting points and I can’t wait to see the new air intake on the Merc.

    In modern F1 the teams always say how accurate the simulators are now. If they really are, surely Michael already knows whether or not the new characteristics are likely to suit and if so is this is why Nico is being very humble.

    It struck me that Michael changing to the testing chassis, would have perhaps known his car was a lemon as data from simulation would not have matched that of his car from the fly away races.

    1. TM says:

      I don’t think the Merc is quite a lemon.
      Nothing’s a 100% simulation; CFD is good now but unless you believe Nick Wirth over all the other designers, it’s still not good enough yet. Even windtunnel data sometimes turns out to be wrong on track.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        Totally agree with you mate. CFD has a long way to go without a doubt. Simulator has been around for a while now, still the teams can’t get everything 100% right based on simulator datas. It is impossible. During the testing era big teams were able to use the datas properly to develop their cars. Merc would’ve been able to develop lot more if testing was allowed. Now they are the fourth team on the grid as far as pace goes. Most likely they would’ve been much closer or on the same level if they were able to test their cars during the season. McLaren, Ferrari & RedBull have done a good job making the cars, but development wise Merc is probably on the same level. There is so much they can do to improve the pace.

        No matter what, it has been good for F1 to have Schumacher back. F1 also needs a brand like Mercedes to stay in the sport. So, regardless of who we’d like to see win the championship let’s hope Mercedes doesn’t give up after one or two disappointing seasons.

  8. Eric Weinraub says:

    I certainly fall into the category of those punters who thought Michael was going to dust the field just like the old days. I do expect Michael to drive better at this track, the site of his sublime drive in the rain in ’96, and make progress. This car was NEVER designed with him nor Rosberg in mind. I think Nico has done an awesome job. I think the lack of testing is really showing. I honestly think they have gone to far in the banning of all in season testing.

    1. BeenDun says:

      Agreed. Banning all in season testing is killing F1. Name one other sport where competitors can’t practice at all during the season. Simulators are all well and good, but no way is the data gathered in a simulator as accurate or as valuable as data gathered in an actual test.

      1. TM says:

        Yes but there aren’t many sports that were costing up to £400million a year to compete in.

        I think the ban is a good thing. I don’t remember the racing being any more exciting when they did thousands and thousands of mid season testing.

      2. Formula Zero says:

        Well somewhat disagree with you on this point TM. Yes, there aren’t many sports around as expensive as F1. We often compare the cost of soccer players with F1 which is understandable. However, complete ban on testing isn’t probably the right way to go. We all want the small teams as well as the big teams to stay in the sport for as long as possible. But a few limited in season testing would’ve been good for all the teams. Limited testing could also prevent unexpected accidents because of uncertain updates on the cars.

  9. Enrico Fiore says:

    Hakkinen and Alonso are picked out but Raikkonen is omitted. I’m wondering is Michael still sore even now about the man who replaced him at Ferrari?

    1. Hugo Boss says:

      Raikkonen is not omitted because of soreness. He’s omitted because drivers who are worldbeaters on their day, but whose day doesn’t come that often, don’t get rated like an Alonso or a Hakkinen.

      1. Enrico Fiore says:

        HB:
        .. I meant Kimi Raikkonen actually!

  10. marques de portago says:

    rosberg is smart, and is giving schumi respect. He knowas the kaiser is coming back anytime.

  11. BiggusJimmus says:

    It may be the result of editor’s choices, but recent photos of Schumacher have him looking old, much older than everybody else and much older than he looked before the season. I think what happened in China was that he couldn’t really be bothered trying to fight his way from the back to the front. The fact is, he just doesn’t really care about it anymore. In other words, he loses and and it doesn’t bother him that much – why would it with record like his and a full life outside of F1?

    1. marques de portago says:

      nothing like a victory to rejuvenate him.

      1. BiggusJimmus says:

        Does he care enough to win? Can he be bothered being as ruthless as Alonso?

  12. chris green says:

    James – re lengthened wheelbase. If you look at the 1968 Lotus 49b you can see how Colin Chapman lengthened the wheelbase by splaying the wishbones in a forwards direction. They gained 3 inches. If you looked down on the car from above – the wishbones weren’t perpendicular to the chassis but were angled slightly forward. they didn’t change the wishbone mounting points.

  13. Sam says:

    Hi James, I am a massive fan of him but I wonder why nobody has questioned his bravery.
    I felt that he wasn’t using all the track, breaking too early and had zero confident previously.
    Naturally, if you are not used to pushing to the very limits in a rocket, when you arrive to a corner with very fast pace, you kinda scare. “Oh sh1t, this is too fast for me I need to brake I need to brake”.
    I know it sounds funny but do you think that’s the case?
    He might be unconsciously thinking “I got a wife and two kids, won enough. It’s unwise to go as fast as Lewis.”

    1. marques de portago says:

      i doubt it, in today’s f1. If it was in the seventies or eighties, for sure. But nowadays f1 it’s way too safe for a man of his caliber to think like that. And don’t forget he was riding superbikes just last year, and there he was risking a lot for very little in return.
      He is very close to the ultimate pace.
      I can believe i am on his side. I always hated him, when he was at ferrari. He totally destroyed the sport for five years in a row. But let’s be objective here. He is a clear top five in the history of the sport, and that deserves respect. Listen to barbie, he knows.

  14. Mike400 says:

    I take it the team doesnt have to run two identical cars? In theory they could run an “A” spec for Rosberg and a “B” spec for Schumi that caters for their individual driving styles?

    I know it would be a hugely expensive way of doing things, i.e. developing two completely seperate cars but is there anything to stop them doing so?

  15. Colin says:

    Well,look who is sitting 3rd after 1st practice!! Things will only improve even more from now… Gooooo Shumi

  16. james says:

    The first practice session have just finished. It looks like Mercedes is on form with the McLaren and Red Bull as the benchmark. I suspect Ferrari hiding their performance. Most importantly, Schumi is not slower than his team-mate.

    Anyone who suggest that Schumi days are over, I fear these ppl are too quick to conclude. Schumi was nothing in ’92 and ’93 (his rookie days). At the time, everyone cheered for Senna. After Schumi became better, no one could stop him. I think he is re-learning to be his best and he is nowhere near his best. On the other hand, Rosberg is at his very best.

    1. Pierce89 says:

      no one stopped him because after Senna died,there were no great drivers left. Hakkinen was good but not in the league of Senna(or alonso)

  17. Hugo Boss says:

    Friday practice. Hmmm. Lost it, do you think Stirling?

    Then again, maybe Ross Brawn is sabotaging Nico’s car to make his pal look better. And Schu’s old ally in cheating, the FIA, is letting him run a 2.6 litre motor!

    There’s another possibility: He is a fantastic driver…

  18. wolf says:

    Schumi is on his way back to the top. Whether it will be enough for the title inn the coming years, who knows. But what you can expect is that he will squeeze the most out of this car and compete at the highest level. And at that he still is, I am sure, one of the very best if not the best. Let’s wait and see … this Friday’s training session looks very promising already … even though I think they need several more races to get the car where they want it to be …. and that, again, will be largely due to Schumi’s work and input …. another great aspect of this fantastic driver who is always contributing more than just driving the damn thing ….

  19. Robert Powers says:

    “I certainly fall into the category of those punters who thought Michael was going to dust the field just like the old days.”

    There is no way that was going to happen.What I believed was that Mercedes as a factory team might give him the machinery to be on even footing with the likes of Ferrari,and the Schumacher\Brawn “magic” might get some victories-still hope so.1989 Le Mans return still a fresh memory.Dusting?They would need a young Schumacher for that.

    “I’m wondering is Michael still sore even now about the man who replaced him at Ferrari?”

    7 time Champion sore?About what?Hakkinen and Alonso deserve mention certainly,but when you make examples you do not have to name everyone.

    “I am a massive fan of him but I wonder why nobody has questioned his bravery.”

    “But nowadays F1 it’s way too safe for a man of his caliber to think like that.”

    Barcelona turn one-you are not going to take that corner at speed until you work up to it.You must drive up to the gravel trap at 320 kph before you brake.All of these guys are brave pilots.You must be in F1.

    Felipe Massa came within a hair of losing his life.Any of these drivers could receive a wallop like that,even in practice.Sure it’s safer today.But it will never be safe to the point that they feel safe.

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