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Williams question 'inconsistent' Rosberg
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Williams question 'inconsistent' Rosberg
Posted By:   |  11 May 2009   |  4:30 pm GMT  |  56 comments

I’m intrigued by the comments coming out of Williams over the last 24 hours, regarding Nico Rosberg.

First at the top of yesterday’s press release after the race they said, “Inconsistency compromised a strong strategy and left Nico in P8 and with one point at race end.”
Picture 40

Then lower down, Patrick Head says, “Nico’s pace in the first stint was initially good, but we then struggled to maintain consistency, so we will have to investigate that.”

Today comes a de-brief document from the team, in which technical director Sam Michael says
“Nico’s lap times were somewhat inconsistent, yes, and we are now looking carefully through all of the data and bodywork parts to determine what caused that.”

Williams’ frustration is evident; they lie 8th in the constructors championship with a scant 4.5 points, despite being one of the teams who started the season with the advantage of a double diffuser.

Sam Michael goes on to say, “Even if we think we have a faster car than how we currently stand in that table, the Constructors’ order is what the overall performance of our team is measured by. ”

This is all finessed with layers of pr gloss, but reading between the lines I think Williams are a bit fed up with Rosberg’s performance this year.

In his defence, as far as the inconsistency is concerned, I heard last night before I left the track that Rosberg had suffered some problem with the floor of the car, which may have affected him in certain corners around the Barcelona track and resulted in him struggling to turn in consistent times. I look forward to the findings of their current investigations into the car.

But the fact is that Rosberg hasn’t really been pulling up trees this year. I’ve heard it suggested that if someone like Fernando Alonso were in that car he would have scored podiums with it, but who’s to know?

Let’s take a look though at Nico’s race and see what the team is referring to.

Nico starts the race on Sunday from 9th on the grid, but took advantage of the chaos at the first corner to move up to 7th. His lap times do not come down like the other front running drivers, a lap of 1m 24.2 is followed by a 1m25.0. A few laps later a 1m 24.1 is followed by a 1m 25.9. No traffic is involved.

He pits on lap 25 and the second stint is more consistent, working his way down through the 1m24s to the 1m23s. There is often three or four tenths of disparity between laps, however. He has lost time and later in the race Nick Heidfeld in the BMW gets in front of him, at the second pit stops.

The BMW is at least 2/10ths slower than the Williams, so this is an irritant. In Bahrain it will have irritated the team that Rosberg, with a significant package of upgrades, was only two tenths faster than Nakajima in qualifying. The impression is of a driver who is struggling to make things happen in his fourth season in F1.

I remember a few years ago, when one of the drivers wasn’t pulling his weight to the extent Patrick expected he said, “We are deep in Boutsen territory,” referring to Thierry Boutsen, who had plenty of days when he wouldn’t be able to perform.

I’m not saying for a second that they are in ‘Boutsen territory’ now, but Rosberg is certainly under scrutiny there. That message is coming through loud and clear.

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1

Interesting Read! Very detailed blog.
Thanks for sharing

2

I think it is a good question about Rosberg, James. Over the last year, I have wondered whether the hype about him is justified. Last season he made a lot of mistakes, which prevented him from being on the podium more times than the two he managed. In some of the most chaotic races last year, it was often his more inexperienced teammate, Nakajima, that took advantage and brought the Williams home in the points. Rosberg seems to be making more mistakes again this year, in Australia he pushed too hard, too soon, on the soft tyres which meant he was a sitting duck in the closing laps, costing him a strong points finish.

It is difficult to judge Rosberg’s ultimate ability because his teammate Nakajima does seem to lack any genuine pace, and it was a similar situation when Wurz was his teammate. They are both drivers Rosberg would be expected to beat. The only time when he had a very fast teammate in Mark Webber, Rosberg was put comprehensively in the shade, although you could argue Rosberg was only in his first season of F1.

It would be good to see Rosberg either get an opportunity in a top car, or have a teammate who could really push him, as then we would know just how good he really is. As Button is proving this year getting a top car can really sharpen your focus, and perhaps the lack of results at Williams is frustrating Rosberg, and he is perhaps overdriving the car.

Overrated or not, Rosberg and Williams are not realising their potential this season.

3

Sir Frank needs to get on the phone to Rubens.
Should Rubens decide that Brawn is favouring
Button, and follow through on his threat,
then a drive with Williams would
be a good alternative to quiting F1.
We know Rubens was relatively quick in
last years ‘bad’ Honda car, and is not far behind
Buttons in this years ‘good’ Brawn car.
Put Rubens in this years Williams car, then
we would have a good comparison for Rosberg’s
true pace.

4

Rosberg may not be an absolute top notch driver in the mold of Alonso, Hamilton, and Raikkonen, but he’s clearly good enough to get regular points in a good car. Maybe his lap times were inconsistent in Barcelona for no good technical reason; maybe there’s a good technical explanation for his performance.

What really matters is the big picture. And that appears to be–at this stage of the season–that Williams once again underperform through a good if not great car and poor pitwork and strategy. As a Williams fan since the early 80’s it pains me to say this, but quite clearly they are no longer a top team. Sam Michael has been around for a long time and he clearly has not delivered. They do not have anybody who appears to be able to develop race-winning (or at least place-gaining) strategies on a regular basis. Similarly, they don’t appear to have anybody on the pit wall who can think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances like Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds appear to be able to. Through poor strategic planning and other reasons, they keep having to change engines. They seemingly cannot stop themselves from getting rid of perfectly good drivers (e.g., Mansell, Prost, Hill). I’ve been waiting for a tough investigative piece that sheds more light on what’s going on at Williams. Peter Windsor used to have such pieces in F1 Racing – I remember one on Jaguar Racing. Unfortunately, the realities of modern F1 appear to require most (all?) journalists not to fall out of favor with their anonymous sources…

Perhaps the budget cap is their only hope to get back up to where they used to be?

5
Northern Munkee

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he turns out to be driving with Lewis, or (and although I very much doubt it) instead of Lewis next year at McLaren, coming to his Lewis’ defence, in lie-gate as his friend (which I’m sure he is) but also serves to wave a big ‘I’m here, come and get me’ flag, I can be a team player for you, to me.

6

I think Nico is pretty talented, as he was pretty dam good in GP2.

What i can’t understand is Williams very conservative approach to qualifying.

The practice times show that they have a very quick car on soft tyres and low fuel, so why do Williams insist in fueling Nico 4 – 5 laps more fuel than the leading Brawns, Toyotas and RBs?

Fuel him short, let him take pole (great for marketting & team morale), let him do some flying first 10 laps and bring him in for a good long middle stint

Sure, this stategy has risks, but if Nico keeps the car on the grey stuff, then he’ll always get 2 or more points, but if luck favours him, a podium could beckon

Both Williams and Nico have their faults this year, but its not past repair – they’ll need to gel and stop whining about each other and get on top of their car and championship and bring Williams back to where they should be – the winning circle!

7

There’s been a consistent pattern to the weekends. Rosberg always runs well on the Friday, but does not convert on the Saturdays or the race.

A simple observation though; Nico does appear to be quite aggressive with the wheel; I wonder if he’s overdriving the car. He’s undoubtedly fast; maybe with a bit of coaching and support he can really move upwards. In terms of sheer pace, the Willliams looks good enough for consistent top 5 finishes.

8

Nico’s been far too hyped since his f1 debut. He’s a midfield driver in my opinion, not top flight.

After putting a scare up Webber by getting a fastest lap in Bahrain and then qualifying at the pointy end in Malaysia, Nico dropped off like a stone and Webber thoroughly trounced him the rest of the year. Since then, Nico’s only had Wurz (probably whom Patrick was referring to with his Boutsen comment) and Nakajima to compare Rosberg to, hardly benchmarks.

I was flabergasted to read that Mclaren were seriously interested in Nico to partner Lewis at the end of 2007 – were they mad?

9

Nico was great in GP2… came back mid season and dusted Kovi for the title… so let’s see him with a decent ride. Look what a decent ride has done for Button.

Of the 2nd generation drivers I’d say Rosberg>Piquet anyday!

I think Rosberg would give Hamilton a run for his money at McLaren instead of the lame duck Kovi is – but that’s what they wanted right? I guess we’ll never know until silly season 2010 starts.

10

Too bad they can’t afford Alonso!

11

pbyrne don’t even mentioned the 2006 Williams season, that wasn’t a battle between drivers (Mark and Nico), that was a battle between both drivers and the car.

If I remember well, they had over 20 DNF combine that season.

:s

12

I would love to see Williams back on top. I wasnt following F1 back in the 80s or early/mid 90s, but this teams name is a legend, i really thing their place is amongst Ferrari and McLaren. But when I thing about seeing Rosberg or Nakajima on podium, winning races… I’m starting to feel ill. It’s probably completely irrational…
But Williams need some revolution inside, and one of the things they can do for 2010 is take Cosworth engine and that way get rid of Nakajima – get young Senna instead.
The team has a car almost that good like those from Montoya-Schumacher years, so they need drivers of Montoya size or close at least.

13

First of all: Excellent blog James, thanks for keeping us all informed about the aspects of the grand prix weekend that might otherwise go unnoticed by the regular followers (i.e. those without travel expenses and a pitpass!)

With regards Rosberg and Williams, it pains me to say because I do like Nico, but he really hasn’t delivered the goods in the early part of this season. To echo what some previous posters have said, I can’t help but think that if Alonso had been in the car, Williams would have had several podium finishes by now. The pace seems to be in the car, so why hasn’t Nico translated that into solid points finishes? I agree that Kazuki isn’t much of a benchmark, but surely the mark of a great driver is to find the speed within themselves.

I don’t think Williams are in the habit of replacing drivers mid-season but if I were Frank, I’d put a fire under Nico’s proverbial by replacing Kazuki with Adam Carroll…

14

Williams has always been pretty poor at race strategy – they win when the car has a huge advantage over the rest. The only driver to become champion in a Williams that was not the quickest car on the grid was Nico’s father, Keke Rosberg, and he did that in a year (1982) when drivers in other and better cars were sharing out the wins between them, thereby allowing Keke to amass points by sheer consistency.

Nico is good enough to win if the team were to be a bit more intelligent in their race strategy. As has been pointed out already, the poor points haul so far this year is largely due to strategy errors.

Nakajima’s case is similar. Everyone conveniently forgets that he is always fuelled heavy at the start, often put on a one-stop strategy, and inevitably in the midfield danger area for collisions as a result. The lad is actually much better than everyone supposes.

15

I’m somewhat mystified about Rosberg’s relatively high rating by many pundits. Nice guy, well spoken and his looks are a marketing man’s dream. He has a brain as well.

But he’s just not top drawer IMO, not against the wealth of talent in F1 right now – Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Vettel. Could anyone honestly put Rosberg in the same league as these grafters? Not to mention Webber (who destroyed him as Williams team-mate) and Button.

16

Interesting post James – I have been thinking about the Williams situation myself now for a while but am still firmly undecided!
I mean if you compare them with another diffuser team – Brawn – they have a clear lack of experience.
But was Rubens able to perfect the set up for Barcelona for example through greater experience or simply greater ability? Somebody mentioned Nico going well in Monaco. But in the rain last year he parked it in the wall, while Rubens finished 6th in his clapped out Honda.Greater experience or simply greater talent?
Trouble for Nico of course is not fans like us having thoughts along these lines, but potential employers….

17

James I echo the comments I have seen on many of the articles of yours recently – this is a great F1 site and a real find – please keep up the great work and you are sadly missed on BBC – although they are doing a great job (but get off Eddie and Johnathan L!).

Back to Rosberg. I have a keen interest in F1 (although seeing how Bernie treats the punters sometimes I wonder why) but although I have no real idea how good he is he does seem to be in the top half of the ability level in the current field.

The ‘Nakajima is little help in backing him up’ comment does have merit and I suppose it must be difficult to be No 1 at his age and ‘having the buck stop here’. However like the Mclaren situation the driver can’t carry the rest of the team if the car is also at times flawed and surely wunderkind Hamilton proves the point.

The truth appears to be that more than ever before all the drivers seem to be on a knife edge at the current level of competitiveness on the grid and only as good as their last 2 or 3 races (e.g. BMW’s and Kubica down with the Force Indias and written off – although not Kubica – yet – but give it time – Oh yes and Kimi is now rubbish as well isnt he?).

It is good to see the F1 world turned on its head this year but although I would not like to go back to the old days of Schumacher or Prost disappearing down the road every race am I the only one who finds it very hard to understand what the hell is going on so far as who is where in the race and how after 2, 3, or 4 stops it is all going to end – perhaps next years ‘economy runs’ may be more comprehensible.

In the meantime it is good to see the ‘has been’ Button leading the title and lets hope he gets the title – sorry Rubens

18

Nico has to do everything he can to get into kovalainens seat at the end of the year. It’s time for him to try and negotiate his way up the grid or risk getting lost in the midfield for eternity. Each year that passes, his star diminishes.

19
Michael Roberts

There seems to be a lot of hatred for Nakajima – a lot of people thinking he’s only there because Toyota foot the bill but he did a respectable job last year and with a bit more luck could have done better in ’09.

He missed out on the top 10 shootout by 0.02 seconds and had to come in for a new front wing after the first lap crazyness. On any other track he probably would have made some places but Barcelona isn’t known for it’s overtaking.

20
Chris Johnson

Williams and Rosberg did seem to have a golden opportunity to make hay early in the season, but so did Toyota. Now both are being swamped by development in the other teams. I don’t see them turning it around.

The other part of this is that Williams has never been good at coddling their drivers, and this car isn’t good enough to attract better ones, like they used to do.

It will be interesting to see how rookie Hulkenberg does next year, and if Rosberg will be as “in demand” as he was a year ago.

21

I have Nico in my pool and I’m about to trade him. He has missed many an opportunity this year, some not his fault. Sad thing is, early on this season is when Williams had it’s best chance. With the big teams catching up, it will most likely only get worse from here on out. Frank and Patrick must know they squandered a golden chance this year.

22
Jake Pattison

I dont think one really needs to read between the lines of those statements James. I reckon they are paving the way for a replacement, sooner rather than later.

Do you have any idea who Patrick/Frank may have in mind?

It might be time to put Nico H in the hot seat – this from their own website regarding NH – “With a consistency that has seen success in every category of racing he has contested to date”.

They do value consistency! 🙂

23

I think Williams could do a lot worse things than keeping hold of Rosberg. The kid is quick, and has often got the Williams into positions it shouldnt have been such as Singapore 08, luck was invovled but he did the job.

I would certainly thought echo many of the previous posts about Nakajima. The lad can be quick sometimes, but when you compare him and Rosberg, Rosberg comes out on top. Maybe Williams should have a look at him, but then again, that could risk William’s engine supply…..

24

Yes I think you are right to bring this up. Rosberg has often looked promising but never quite delivered. A really god driver somehow has the ability to get a slightly better result than the car is capable of. This is something Rosberg has never done. I think what Williams and Rosberg need is strong driver in the other car to both help with development and give Rosberg a wake up call. Far to often we hear him comment after a race “it was just one of those races where everything went wrong”

25

Totally agree with you Will Jordan, but guys like James Allen on pay attention to the bad things, because those things are that make noise.

Let’s make a little season review of Rosberg.

1. Oz GP, he was comfortable behind Vettel just before the team put 20 seconds on his first stop, then when he was fourth the team call him to chasing down Barrichello with soft tires and 15 laps of fuel onboard, the rest is history, between six and eight point lost by team mistakes.

2. Sepang GP, another amazing start by Rosberg, then the team call him very early, they said that Rosberg still had three more laps of fuel onboard, the team mistakes with the rain was another story, he lost al least four points.

3. Chinese GP, another bad call by the team with the SC, so we are talking about two or maybe four points.

At that time Rosberg was suppose to had at least 15 points by team mistakes had cost him 11.5 points.

And now James Allen made this entry to questioning Rosberg’s Performance? What about Williams bad couching at the pit wall? How on earth a driver can keep focus and motivated when his team blow out every race with bad calls at the pit wall?

God…

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