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Has Mercedes hurt Rosberg to help Schumacher?
Has Mercedes hurt Rosberg to help Schumacher?
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 May 2010   |  1:31 pm GMT  |  126 comments

There is a lot of chatter at the moment about the updates on the Mercedes in Barcelona being done to help Michael Schumacher, but at the expense of Nico Rosberg. Rosberg had a stronger start to the season, but in Spain the form was turned around.

Rosberg: Step backwards (Darren Heath)

Rosberg went into Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in second place in the championship, but had had his most uncompetitive weekend of the season; he could not get the car to work as he wanted it and scored no points.

In contrast, Michael Schumacher qualified well and finished in fourth place, his most competitive showing of the season so far.

Inevitably this has led some commentators to suggest that Mercedes is working to get a car which works for Schumacher at the expense of Rosberg’s competitiveness. Given Schumacher’s track record in this department, the stories have gained some traction. But is it the case here?

German commentator and former F1 star Hans Stuck said, “Mercedes mustn’t sacrifice Rosberg’s quality to build a car which only suits Schumi,” and in the UK Eddie Jordan has jumped on the bandwagon, saying “It would be a mistake to build a car according to Schumacher’s wishes.”

But in Spain, I attended a briefing at which Ross Brawn shot down the idea that the car had been changed to help Schumacher. He pointed out that the developments were put in production long before Schumacher struggled in the Chinese Grand Prix. In many cases they were the product of findings from winter testing,

“The developments on the car were in no way focussed towards one driver or the other, ” said Brawn. “It’s extra downforce, more range on the weight distribution better braking, all of which would help both drivers.

“There were fairly consistent comments from both drivers. And these developments were well into the system before we had the glitch of Shanghai with Michael. They take in some cases many months to do. Some of the developments were from what we saw in winter testing. They are not aligned to one driver or the other.”

Rosberg himself said that the changes were to suit both drivers, “We’ve made a significant step. Until now we found that the driving styles are similar and our comments fall into similar areas. I don’t think that there is too much difference. We suffered from too much understeer (in Spain) and it’s one of my weaknesses, I have difficulties coping with an understeer car. This weekend Michael has coped with it better than me.”

“What helps us in developing the car is that we have pretty similar requests, ” said Schumacher. “It’s a matter of time to cure our issues and keep on developing.

“Barcelona is a track that provokes understeer so it’s natural to have understeer, with the long corners. Everything you do to move away from it gives you oversteer. So you have to live with a certain amount of understeer. Although we have made modifications, it allows me to set up the car a bit more specifically to what I like and opens a window for possibilities, but it doesn’t change completely the car.”

This weekend the Mercedes will revert to the original suspension layout, which gives a wheelbase some 5 cm shorter than the Barcelona car, because of the tight nature of Monaco’s corners. The longer wheelbase car will return in Turkey.

Mercedes announced today the signing of another major sponsor, Deutsche Post, who once appeared on the Jordan. The company’s branding will appear on the chassis and front wings from this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix onwards.

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Prof Bolshaviks

It sounds like to me that Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel ( i think they all got a mention) beat their teammates by being faster.
Rosberg beats Schumacher by being faster. Everyone was happy with this.
Schumacher beats rosberg and suddenly it is favouratism?
If the short car suits nico better, why was an article not written questioning the favouratism if Ross towards nico at michael’s expense? Because we had people instead saying michael was past it!
I get seriously worried when, “fans” cannot imagine that a 7 times world champion can beat a team mate fairly on pace, once in a while.
I honestly think that if you were a racing driver who spent race after race being crushed by micheal it may upset you a little bit. People then write you are disadvantaged and BANG! We now have an excuse. Rubens was number 1b at Ferrari, his words not mine. Irvine was number 2, massa never specified, he got on with his job.
Rubens spat his dummy and got his backside kicked by jenson! Did Ross favour jenson? Rubens again thinks so.
Pathetic, the whole story is utterly pathetic.
Someone in a team has to be infront at the end of a race, usually the faster driver.
There is no conspiracy here, just watch the races or don’t. But deal with your small mindedness, it will ruin your life.


re: Brawn, Schumi and Rosberg in denial about the Merc now favouring Schumi – all I can say is that there’s PR speak and there’s the truth. The performances of the two drivers will tell the real story.

And on that point, Rosberg struggled in Spain to find a balance in the car he liked, with diametricly opposed ballast changes through the weekend. This is not behaviour of a driver who is happy with the updates… Also isn’t it funny how when they return the car to the short whleebase, for Monaco, Rosberg is again faster at the end of the two practice sessions… 😉

As I say, there’s what the drivers and teams say, and then there’s the proof of the pudding.


If you’re going to accuse the entire MercGP frontline of indulging in an orchestrated litany of lies, you’d better have better “proof of the pudding” than some distant and not particularly insightful observations.


actually schumi was faster than rosberg on practice one but yeah rosberg was faster on practice 2 by only 0.13…looks like its quite close now.


James, does each team have to run the same car for both drivers? Obviously there are differences in set up, but is wheel base a set up? I cannot imagine why Rosberg would opt to run a more front-biased weight distribution on this year’s narrower tires and from what he says, neither does he (other than in Monaco). But, can he?


It’s quite incredible how some people jump to the conclusion that it’s a conspiracy against Rosberg when he is beaten by a 7 times world champion in 1/5th of races.

Only beating Michael Schumacher 80% of the time… poor kid.

*rolls eyes*


A change back to the short wheelbase car for today, and Rosberg is faster again must confirm that the conspiracy theory is true beyond any doubt !! Right ??

Except the skeptics are forgetting the fact that if indeed Rosberg likes the short wheelbase better he could easily just run that instead of the long one, like today. The fact that he didn’t, probably means he believes the new one is an improvement.


When the man is finishing around 10th place British media is saying he will quit because he sucks, when the man is finishing close to the podium its a conspiracy …….Whats next ?

I´m not a fan of MS but give the man some credit thanks to him F1 is once again popular all over the world . And I also would like to add that next year he will be a title contender . And I would like to say that mr.Button is the most overrated driver ever and I will eat my socks if the man ever wins another title….Last race a man with a slower car showed him how a car has to be driven ….


Mercedes needs the name Schumacher! It is a brand in itself and if anyone knows anything about marketing… it costs a lot of money to build such a brand.

So if push came to shove… do you think Mercedes would not put more effort into pleasing Schumacher? If he is beat at every race by Rosberg do you think he would hand around in year 2 and 3 of his contract??? come on.

I’m sure they want both drivers to be successful but they can’t let Schumacher get schooled by Rosberg… or else they risk losing the brand!


I’m not convinced that Mercedes GP can be described as a leading team. The situation is much different than it was at Brawn 12 months ago. Riding on the back of Hondas exit Brawn inherited a pretty decent structure. That’s no longer the case.

For example Mercedes have obviously gone down a developmental dead end with their new car. Fundamentally something is amiss and they seem to be floundering despite Rosberg’s good early start to the season.

All the major teams like Ferrari RB and Mac have come up with good designs.

I think the team is also hurting because Ross Brawn’s expertise in pit strategy is not as big an influence this tear.

As for driver’s telling the truth. Most F1 people can be economical with the truth For example. Rosberg said “We’ve made a significant step.” Yeah well I didn’t see it.

Now we are back in Europe the big teams are flexing their muscles and in Spain teams like Mercedes and Williams were found wanting.


I think all this booha about Mercedes “favouring” Schumacher and disadvantaging Rosberg because of Schumacher being the former 7 time world champion and so on and so forth is ridiculous. It was clear in the previous races that the Mercedes had difficulties in turning into a corner. It just looked so ponderous and sluggish to get towards the apex.

Add in the race fuel then it just gets even worse.

In addition, we heard that actually Rosberg and Jock Clear saying they tried a different set up approach on the car which obviously didn’t work, whilst Schumacher stuck to a more normal set up. Hence why Rosberg struggled so much.

Now this doesn’t mean of course Rosberg was wrong or Schumacher was right to do what they did with the set up approach because it could have worked either way.


At this stage of the season and with the car so clearly off the pace, do you think any team principal would be concerned with any bias towards any particular driver? Or would he be desperate to improve the car at any price for anyone who could make it look half-way decent on Sunday?

Get a grip, this is about business and sponsors – and not a little pride. It’s not about advantaging one driver to finish 6th, or maybe 4th if they are lucky. It’s about trying to get either driver somewhere near the front to justify the money spent to the people in the boardroom on Monday. If, by some miracle, something was found that allowed the test driver to find 2 seconds, he’d be in the car on race day!


James – completely unrelated BUT any word on F1 being broadcast in HD? the last I heard was it *might* happen in 2011?


No point asking James; you have to ask Bernie …


Wow… the man retired, sat out three seasons, and when he comes back, the conspiracy theories are waiting to greet him at the gate…

I suppose that if he uses his elbow to ‘polish’ his car’s nose cone before the race, some people will say that he is illegally improving his car’s aerodynamics…


Ross Brawn is a national treasure, a rare one at that. Dick Branson thought he could find another gifted engineer and leader in Nick Wirth. Well, it seems the wheels have fallen off that particular assumption. As for Merc favouring MS, I think times have changed and I think Michael S. has changed. He doesn’t lord it up in the paddock, he doesn’t make excuses for his results. In fact, he behaves like a bit of a statesman. He’s not 21 anymore. I think the cat stroking Bond villain machinations of the past are behind him. Also, as has been previously written, in the past cars were constantly tested and refined throughout the season, by drivers themselves. This allowed them to seamlessly develop the car to their driving style. Testing regulations now prohibit that approach. Developments now appear to be something more akin to a series of calculated risks – only some of which work.


Clearly the conspiracy theories are mistaken; it would only make sense to use Schumacher’s time at Mercedes to build brand as well as a racing car for the future. Who is better placed to help Mercedes enter F1 at the front? Is there anybody else alive who would be better at getting the car happening, and from the driver’s seat?

If he doesn’t win championships then so be it, but his influence upon the team will in time prove to be pivotal.

Jonathan Schutte

Conspiracy theories abound in all aspects of humankind – some people are still, 50 years after the fact, debating about the existence of another shooter on the grassy knoll in the JFK assassination.

In the end, everyone will have an opinion and conspiracy theories will always exist. But I’m sure we can all agree that, as a whole, the picture of the 2010 F1 season is looking really good at the moment. And, in my opinion, these little tussles in the background amongst teammates viaing for superiority in their team, only adds to the excitement and enjoyment.

Go F1!




The biggest problem with this issue is that if Michael continues to find his feet and turn in better results (as most people expect he will), the flames of this conspiracy will continue to be fuelled.


Let´s a wait a couple of grand prix, maybe Nico this week at Barcelona wasn´t on top of the car´s setup.

Even Michael was a long way of the RBR, Mclaren and Ferrari specially on the harder tyre.

For exemple Vettel was a litle bit short to Mark Webber´s pace this weekend.


I agree, one race is a small sample size. Monaco is a completely different layout to Barcelona too.

Stuart Fenton

Merc are clearly leaning towards Mikey S. For marketing reasons he is huge, but the reasons why are in the past. They can’t honestly think he will win another championship? Maybe races, but not championships. They should be very careful of how they treat Nico. He’s German, good looking, a nice bloke and a great driver. It would be very short sighted to neglect him because of some old fart. Maybe with nurturing, Nico could be the next Michael?


Maybe, but i think vettel and hulkenberg has more potential than nico…and i think merc thinks so too…the rumor is they are trying to poach vettel to come over to merc once schumi leaves..

Stuart Fenton

I feel most sorry for Heidfeld! He’s a bloody capable driver and all he seems to be doing is touching up his beard and wearing the merc f1 kagool


“They should be very careful of how they treat Nico. He’s German, good looking, a nice bloke and a great driver” I meant that these are very marketable attributes and should be careful to neglect them!


“Some old fart.” Lol.

Aussie F1 Fan

Off topic I know but Rosberg good looking? My GF thinks he is disgusting! (To quote her exact words: Good from far, but far from good!).

Jamie Alguseri (wrong spelling, I know) on the other hand, well lets just say she is a big fan! 🙂


I agree with your last sentence. Perhaps that is the plan at the moment; bring in Schumacher – the most accomplished F1 driver in history – to help nurture the young talent into another highly successful driver. They seem to get along well, so it makes sense…


You can’t be serious? Merc GP should be careful with Nico because he’s good looking and German? Lol.


Of course they lean towards Michael Schumacher for marketing reasons, because he is indeed a huge brand in marketing terms. It’s completely irrelevant that the reasons for that are his past reputation and achievements. His marketing potential is a reality and they’re a business – so of course they’ll use it.

As for neglecting Nico….. he’s got a race seat in the Mercedes works team alongside a multiple world champion. I suspect there are a lot of other none race winning drivers who’d love to suffer the same level of neglect.

But people love a conspiracy to gossip about I guess.


I think is clear that Mercedez will do whatever they can to keep MS happy,that means being fast than Rosberg,but we can say A or B and does not matter because we don’t talk to any of these ppl off the record,BUT YOU DO THAT James,so my question is:what do you think is the truth here?


rosberg was only like a tenth behind schumacher in qualifying.

his poor race had little to do with the changes to the car.


From today’s Q/A by Rosberg:

Q. Do you have any worries that perhaps the upgrades to your car don’t suit your style? And could there be a chance that perhaps you don’t keep them on the car so you can keep the feeling you had at the start of the year?

NR: No, definitely not. We drive exactly the same way me and Michael, so it is not that you can build something that suits him better than me. The only fact is that I really struggle with understeer, which we have in the car at the moment. But we are looking into that to try to improve it because for sure it is not a good thing for Michael either. It is a bad thing for both of us, and that could be the only thing where I might struggle a bit more in the end.


Nothing more than a straight bat answer to the media like you’d expect.


1. Think up a stupid scenario.

2. Ask the person at the centre about it.

3. If his answer contradicts your stupid scenario, assume he’s lying and giving “nothing more than a straight bat answer to the media”.


Yeah, I should have quoted bloggers, forum posters and post commentors instead. My bad.


Right…I hate this…Why does everyone hold something against Schu? Even if Mercedes had “hurt” Rosberg to help Schu, what is wrong with that? He is a 7 time WDC…does he not deserve it?

Anyway this is completely untrue, go on the following link and you’ll know what im talking about. Rosberg made a disasterous decision on set-up, which was the main cause for his lack of pace AND because Shumi found his “sparkle”!

Mercedes REALLY needs to push on development!


If both MS and NR have the same driving stile and share information, how is possible that Nico “…made a disastrous decision on set-up..”?

Come on, all this was predicable – Mercedes cannot afford to their big project, getting Schumacher back on the race track, end up stacked behind (not to say humiliated) his team-mate…


There are probably because of the way he won/crashed on Damon Hill in 1994 with a car that Ayrton Senna felt was not within the rules of not having traction control. He tried to “win” his third championship by crashing into Villeneuve’s Williams-Renault. The “win” in Austria with a little help from Barrichello/Ross Brawn/Jean Todt didn’t help for those who criticize Schumacher. Schumacher’s gift to Barrichello in the American Grand Prix didn’t help his PR. “Creative Qualification Technique” in the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix was another example. Never having an incredible team mate such as a Mika Hakkinene or a Raikkonen might be another issue. It is 2010 and Ross Brawn makes a Schumi-Benz…. Anything else?


As to whether it’s fair is debatable, but if it were to occur it would be in contradiction to Ross Brawn’s stated philosophy about how the team operates when he was at Ferrari and explaining to the media that when a driver established himself as the leading contender they would back that man.

Michael Brown

It’s incredible that this conspiracy theory that Mercedes have somehow made the car more suitable to Schumacher’s style at Rosberg’s expense is even considered remotely possible. The depth of people’s irrational hatred of Schumacher is quite astonishing.

But in today’s Monaco press conference Rosberg has thankfully set the record straight:

Q. Do you have any worries that perhaps the upgrades to your car don’t suit your style? And could there be a chance that perhaps you don’t keep them on the car so you can keep the feeling you had at the start of the year?

NR: No, definitely not. We drive exactly the same way me and Michael, so it is not that you can build something that suits him better than me. The only fact is that I really struggle with understeer, which we have in the car at the moment. But we are looking into that to try to improve it because for sure it is not a good thing for Michael either. It is a bad thing for both of us, and that could be the only thing where I might struggle a bit more in the end.

So please can we put this ridiculous conspiracy theory to bed once and for all?


I am so fed up with this ‘one bad race and your rubbish’ rubbish (for both Michael and Nico – and Felipe)- if the car has been changed and you dont get a chance to test any more then you presumably NEED TIME to adapt – Kimi Fernando Ayrton and Michael did not take the world by storm consistently in the first year of racing (or did they?) despite many perhaps thinking otherwise.

its nice to see the written off old man have a better race – now come back at him Nico (always assuming you are allowed to!)


Fernando scored no points for Minardi in 2001, but consistently but in some brilliant drives, showing excellent potential – Mark Webber did the same in 2002 but also managed to get a 5th place on his debut.

Michael took the world by storm in his first qualifying effort in a Jordan, and was then immediately snapped up by Benetton, and there outshone triple champ Nelson Piquet no less.

Lewis also took the world by storm in his first season, matching and generally being faster than Fernando.

Kimi, on the otherhand did not do so well in his first season. He was generally slower than Nick Heidfeld in the Sauber. McLaren decided to take him on to Heidfeld’s disappointment.


Rosberg is for the long haul and he knows it. If Shumacher’s inputs are getting him better results then its a good short term strategy by Mercedes. The world wants to see its heros winning! TO bring its current car near Red bull this year and next, Mercedes needs all the inputs from a seven time world champion.

Mercedes + Schumacher can equal Ferrari’s super car’s brand image.


“the world wants to see its heros winning!”

You don’t seem to grasp that Schumacher is not

“the world’s hero”.

He certainly not my hero. He’s a driver who

won using dirty underhanded tactics when it suited him. I have respect for Schumacher’s driving skill, but only contempt for his character. And character, old son, is more important than trophies or money. At least it is if you are a man.


You are right Jack Strawb, character is more important than trophies and money. But we can safely assume you know nothing whatsoever about Michael Schumacher’s character. Is he a kind and encouraging father? A dependable husband? A considerate neighbour? We know he gave $10 million to the 2006 Asian tsunami victims but he keeps his private life private. If you are the sort of person Jack who denigrates people you don’t know, it doesn’t speak highly of YOUR character.


He may not be your hero but he certainly is to a lot of other people, I’m guessing more in fact than any other driver on the grid right now. And while we are on the topic of character how about this, Schumi may have made some questionable actions on track before but do you actually know the guy…how can you judge what he really is like if you dont personally know him..let me ask you something, is tiger woods your hero? he NEVER cheated during any golf tournament but we all know thats not a measure of his character isn’t it…by all accounts, it looks like schumi is a decent fellow outside the track, he is quite protective of his family and tries to protect them from all the attention but thats just my opinion since I dont personally know him. so dont just judge his character based on some decisions he made before with split seconds to think driving a car at 300KMH.


The more I read your comments the more I sense you are very bias towards MS…. BIAS, BIAS, and BIAS …

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