Collisions spoil Mercedes’ start to the season

2011 Australian GP team review

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Both Mercedes drivers retired after being hit by rivals in Melbourne.

Michael Schumacher Nico Rosberg
Qualifying position 11 7
Qualifying time comparison (Q2) 1’25.971 (+0.365) 1’25.606
Race position
Laps 19/58 22/58
Pit stops 2 1

Mercedes drivers’ race lap times:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58
Michael Schumacher 161.428 103.027 96.602 96.062 95.839 95.581 95.794 97.682 96.764 98.516 97.483 95.422 95.319 97.854 98.276 96.991 117.213 102.267 95.367
Nico Rosberg 105.34 95.808 95.436 95.81 96.837 94.856 94.619 94.624 94.691 94.021 94.097 94.862 94.407 94.135 94.473 114.239 102.954 94.939 94.011 93.614 93.503 94.6
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Melbourne, 2011

Michael Schumacher

Having missed the cut for Q3 by a tenth of a second, Schumacher lined up 11th on the grid.

He was hit by Jaime Alguersuari at turn three and had to pit to replace a punctured tyre at the end of lap one.

The floor of the Mercedes was also damaged, causing handling problems. Schumacher said: “As the damage was quite substantial, we decided to stop the car for safety reasons.”

Nico Rosberg

Qualified seventh and held the place at the start but was passed by Fernando Alonso on the outside of turn one as they began lap five.

Rosberg switched to hard tyres at his first pit stop but left left him prey to Rubens Barrichello who ran into him on lap 22.

The impact damaged Rosberg side pod, he lost water pressure and retired shortly afterwards.

Ross Brawn said: “This has obviously been a very frustrating weekend for our team.

“Michael’s race was spoilt almost immediately with a collision which eventually caused sufficient damage to force us to retire the car.

“Nico was running reasonably well, however an over-ambitious move from Rubens, which the stewards also agreed with, brought his race to an end.

“It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing first weekend of the season. We will demonstrate our strength as a team, put this race behind us, regroup and go forward from here.”

2011 Australian Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    35 comments on “Collisions spoil Mercedes’ start to the season”

    1. I was really looking forward to see how Schumi and Rosberg were going to move up the field. Shame Barrichello reckless tactics and Algersuari’s unfortunate tap on Michael got them both out the race.

      We missed out on some good battles there.

      1. I was thinking Rosberg was having an engine-problem when Barrichello hit him. I still cannot believe the speed-difference was entirely caused by the tyres. Mercedes’ race-pace was quite disappointing, as everyone was overtaking them in the race. Mercedes is 5th fastest team at best. They can challenge the Toro Rossos, not the Red Bulls. Once again Shoeface’s performance was pretty bad. Although the car was fitted for him, he couldn’t match Rosberg’s pace at all.

        1. I wouldn’t read too far into the performance of mercedes at this grand prix. We didn’t get to see Rosberg’s strategy unfold, who knows if he would be doing something similar to Perez. They said that the difference in lap time between the hard and soft tire would be dramatic, so that explains the pace of Barrichello.

          And I’m not sure whats meant by Schumachers bad performance, since he was hit @ turn 3. Considering he already made 3 positions by turn three I would say his performance in that short space was remarkable. He didn’t have KERS in qualifying, so again, we cannot assume this will be the performance of mercedes for the remainder of the season.

          1. Well, maybe they were not as bad as they seem, but their pre-season objective was to challenge Red Bull and they were nowhere near.
            I also didn’t notice the huge differences between the hard and the soft tyre in the race. Maybe new soft tyres were one second a lap faster, not one second per corner.

            Rosberg pitted significantly earlier than Perez, Barichello pitted on the same lap however!

            Barichello clearly wasn’t going for single stop though, since he went from soft to soft. Shame, if he’d been a bit more sensible he could have had a decent result. And to think it seems he probably could have managed a single stop race as well!

            1. Ok, my bad. This is why a delete button is required. I should read things properly (especially if I’ve been drinking).

              The website data is pretty interesting though, just ignore what I said about Barichello, that was the beer talking)

          3. Even more remarkable when you consider that if not for Alonso running wqide onto the grass at turn 1 (when Schumacher entered the 1st corner right beside his teammate rosberg) causing Schumacher to have no where to go & have to lift, MS might have made up 5+ places at the start. Watch a replay if you don’t believe me, the 1st few corners was nothing short of a “Schumacher Shaft fest” he did everything right & still got shafted, so not his fault at all.

        2. He gained several places off the start, but was hit by Alguersuari (who also hit Buemi). Insufficient evidence for his performance to be called bad.

          1. At least his qualifying-result was disappointing.

            1. If he had got in to q3 he probably wouldn’t have done much better. I think 11th is better than 10th, your further back but can have new tyres.

        3. It seems Rubens was using his KERS to defend from Kobayashi and was on better tyres (as he had a new set) so he braked a lot later, too late it proved.
          At least that is how Rubens explains himself.

    2. We still have to wait to see Mercedes’s real performance. But I has slightly begun to believe they may not be competitive as Renault. Or maybe. But I guess it’s not close to front runner. Very tight gap of midfield would be much interesting than title battle. More fun is always welcomed.

    3. Frustrating stuff to be honest. I was expecting around the same kind of performance from the W02 as I was the R31. Another strong team up top would have potentially shook the podium up even more. Unfortunately we have to wait two weeks to find out if Mercedes have a decent car. I think they will find it hardly, and justifiably so to have another year like 2010.

      1. Really a weekend to forget for MercedesGP.

    4. Is there a small grammatical error in the title Keith, should it not be “Collisions spoil Mercedes’ Race”?

      1. No, because he didn’t want to put “race” in the title.

        “Collisions spoil Mercedes’ start to the season” is correct.

    5. To be perfectly honest, i think schumacher could have avoided that collision with Alguersuari at the start.
      It happened at turn 3: he entered the corner on the left of the trak,with no-one on either side, with Alonso and Kob up front and Alguersuari and a FI behind.
      He could have taken the exact sma line as Kobayashi just in front, but instead he took the corner very tighly, closing the door on Alguersuari.

      OK things are easier when seen in slow-motion, but I don’t really understand why he did that. Maybe he thought he could get a faster exit than the pair of drivers inf ron of him and attempt a double pass on the outside of turn 4 ?

      1. I think that’s a bit harsh, It would be like saying it was Rosberg’s fault for closing the door on Rubens…

      2. Gwenouille…I agree entirely, and said basically the same thing on another thread…I’m no MS fan but I’m not about to say MS did anything wrong necessarily, other than in the interview with him after he retired from the race and they grabbed him for a word on what happened it was more of his usual ‘I don’t know what happened, who hit me, or why’ which I find disingenuine…as if by then he didn’t know who the contact was with…

        I think it is exactly as you say…he got a pretty good start but was trying to go wide in T1…FA had been on the grass and lost some spots and MS found himself having to back off behind him…he got on it again and once again tried to go wide at T3 to, as you say, set himself up to attack from the outside of T4…JA was on the more normal racing line, having committed to that line and his braking, and I believe it was as much MS that hit JA’s front wing as JA hitting him, and that is basically what JA said of the incident…if I wanted to be ultra-cynical I would say that once again MS just put his car where he wanted and assumed that anyone close would simply leap out of his way, or slam on their brakes…I don’t actually think that happened this time, but I also think JA was handcuffed to do anything about the contact as he was already committed on the more normal racing line.

        Like I say, imho it was a racing incident, but I have always found it disingenuine when a 7 time WDC always has to look at the tape afterwards, never knows what happened when they first interview him, when in fact we know that he knows to the millimeter what happened…he knows he was taking an unusual line into T4…

        Otherwise, what a shame NR got taken out…would have loved to see him get the early jump on the points vs MS…as to comments about poor performance of MS, I think that can only be put to his quali effort because obviously we didn’t see enough of either driver to know how things would have fallen into place through the pitting strategy…one thing I do know is that by lap 15 NR was fully half a minute behind SV…Merc will not be fighting for many wins this year if any, let alone the WDC…

      3. so he entered the corner with no one either side (according to you) but then he should have left room for Alguersuari???????? Why if ALG wasn’t there? The only reason ALG got in there was he braked too late & stuck his nose where it shouldn’t have been.

        Ever think schu thought “no one is beside me on the right, i’m going to try & take a wide entry into the next left hander & get a run opn Kobayashi in front of me”????? 100% not his fault mate. ALG tapped into his rear after braking too late & sliding into the Mercedes that he was no where near on the corner entrance.

        1. Aussie Fan…I know Gwenoiulle says he had no one either side, and I don’t agree with that…I think he had cars all around him, as did everybody, which was the very reason he was attempting a wide track away from the apex of t4 to try to get around some cars, just as he had done in t1, when he and JA collided between t3 and t4…so he was nowhere near the apex of t3 in an attempt to get around traffic and then he cut across (not saying that was anything wrong necessarily, but perhaps risky) and tried to take a track around t4 that was also wide and away from the apex…you would agree that the normal racing line is to take the apex, not avoid it, but the exception would be at the start of an F1 race where they do a standing start and inevitably funnel into a narrow channel…

          So all I am saying is that JA was imho taking a more normal racing line, that being at the apex of t3 and heading for the apex of t4, MS was doing a wider path and rather avoiding the apexes to try to make some headway, and they connected…

          I think it was a racing incident, I think JA feels he couldn’t do anything to avoid MS who was the one taking the more unusual line, and MS needn’t claim he didn’t know what happened, who hit him, or why…I think he knew the answers to those questions when we heard him interviewed during the race after he pulled it into the garage…

          Keith I respectfully disagree that JA was completely to blame…that implies that he deserved a penalty and I have not heard one single comment from anyone that JA did anything penalty-worthy, nor have I heard anyone but Aussie Fan say that JA braked too late and slid into the Merc…if in fact there was braking and sliding on JA’s part, that must have been to try to avoid an MS that was suddenly cutting across his bow…JA seemed very in control up to the hit…I agree it was one of those first-lap tangles…that to me implies it was both drivers’ ‘fault’…

          But to imply MS could not have avoided that crash is something I can’t agree with…MS was not taking the normal path…a more normal path would have seen him going ‘with’ traffic, not cutting across it to go wide, so for sure MS could have avoided this with less risky passing attempts in those first few corners…but that’s racing, attempting to gain spots at the start is a normal and crucial thing to do, but taking unusual lines to accomplish that carries some risk…and MS lost in his gamble this time…that’s racing, so don’t say you don’t know what happened, who hit you, or why…

      4. The only way Schumacher could have avoided that crash was if he hadn’t got in his car at the start of the race.

        Alguersuari was completely to blame. I don’t think he was trying a risky move or anything, it was just one of those first-lap tangles that happens.

    6. Two strokes of hard luck. When the race started i had one eye on the midfield and noticed Schuey had gained a few places, so was a bit miffed to see him out (effectively) by the end of lap 1. Rosberg was the only Merc we got to see race, was solid but not brilliant. Didn’t look particularly encouraging all round but not very much to judge them on!

    7. Rosberg just can’t catch a break

      Last year Korea, and this…

    8. what does the graph mean? some headings would be nice lap number and what? speed? potatoes? dandruff?

      1. errrr… lap numbers are at the bottom and laptimes (in sec) on the y-axis.

      2. hear,hear – had to trawl the comments to work out what the Y axis represents

    9. That’s two years running now that Alguersuari has been the bane of Schumacher’s race in Australia. Can’t wait to see their true pace at Sepang.

    10. The biggest disappointment for the team is that they still haven’t reached where they need to.

    11. I hope that the real performance of the Mercedes is in line with the front runners from this weekend, but if it isn’t I’m afraid they may fall back into the clutches of SRT and Sauber who seem to be leading the midfield charge and looked very impressive on Sunday.

    12. Yeah. Collisions.
      With or without collisions they’re light years away. If they won’t come at the next race with a massive improvement – like 2 or 3 seconds / lap – they may start doing something else. I wasn’t expected a genius like Brown do make such a poor car. As fas I a saw, Mercedes appeared to be the weakest (or nearly) car on the track. Always finding excuses seems to be a practice at Mercedes.

    13. McLarenFanJamm
      29th March 2011, 12:31

      I felt sorry for Rosberg, Barrichello was clearly reckless driving into the side of him whilst not even trying to overtake him.

      Having said that, the Merc was well off the pace all weekend and I don’t think they’d have finished much higher than 9th and 10th had they been able to continue.

      I thought that this seaosn would be the one where Nico bagged his first victory, but on current performance it looks like he’ll be waiting a while longer.

    14. I think the true pace of both Mercedes and Ferrari will be shown in Malaysia. They both had very strong test programs (eventually) and have top class drivers and great engineers. However, I was hoping for a little better from Michael. He remains class to my eyes, and without kers in qualifying, looked closer to Rosberg than this time last year.

      With 4 or 5 teams looking for podiums this season the championship could be close but, not as close as 2010, I think.

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