Mercedes progress despite Schumacher’s DRS trouble

2011 Chinese GP qualifying analysis

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Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011

Mercedes relegated Ferrari to the fourth-fastest team around Shanghai.

Nico Rosberg beat both the red cars but Michael Schumacher suffered a repeat of his Drag Reduction System problem from Sepang.

See below for analysis of all the data from qualifying.

Qualifying times in full

  • Red Bull only showed their hand when they had to – Sebastian Vettel’s margin over the McLarens ballooned in the final part of qualifying
  • Lewis Hamilton saved a set of new soft tyres by only doing one run in the final part of qualifying
  • Nico Rosberg showed much better performance from the Mercedes, out-qualifying both Ferraris and coming within two tenths of a second of the McLarens
  • Unusually, Paul di Resta got progressively slower throughout the session yet still made it into Q3.

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1’35.6741’34.776 (-0.898)1’33.706 (-1.070)
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’35.9241’34.662 (-1.262)1’34.421 (-0.241)
3Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1’36.0911’34.486 (-1.605)1’34.463 (-0.023)
4Nico RosbergMercedes1’35.2721’35.850 (+0.578)1’34.670 (-1.180)
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’35.3891’35.165 (-0.224)1’35.119 (-0.046)
6Felipe MassaFerrari1’35.4781’35.437 (-0.041)1’35.145 (-0.292)
7Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso1’36.1331’35.563 (-0.570)1’36.158 (+0.595)
8Paul di RestaForce India1’35.7021’35.858 (+0.156)1’36.190 (+0.332)
9Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1’36.1101’35.500 (-0.610)1’36.203 (+0.703)
10Vitaly PetrovRenault1’35.3701’35.149 (-0.221)
11Adrian SutilForce India1’36.0921’35.874 (-0.218)
12Sergio PerezSauber1’36.0461’36.053 (+0.007)
13Kamui KobayashiSauber1’36.1471’36.236 (+0.089)
14Michael SchumacherMercedes1’35.5081’36.457 (+0.949)
15Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1’35.9111’36.465 (+0.554)
16Nick HeidfeldRenault1’35.9101’36.611 (+0.701)
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1’36.1211’36.956 (+0.835)
18Mark WebberRed Bull1’36.468
19Heikki KovalainenLotus1’37.894
20Jarno TrulliLotus1’38.318
21Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin1’39.119
22Timo GlockVirgin1’39.708
23Vitantonio LiuzziHRT1’40.212
24Narain KarthikeyanHRT1’40.445

Team mate comparisons

Compare the best times of each team’s drivers in the last part of qualifying in which they both set a time.

  • Following a KERS failure in practice, Mark Webber had to qualify without it. According to Williams, KERS is worth 0.24s per lap. Therefore Webber was at least half a second off what should have been possible in Q1, which would have comfortably secured his passage to Q2.
  • There were some tiny gaps between team mates, with just hundredths separating the McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Force India team mates. The latter, separated by just 16 thousandths of a second, was the difference between Paul di Resta getting in and Adrian Sutil missing out.
TeamDriverLap timeGapLap timeDriverRound
Red BullSebastian Vettel1’35.674-0.7941’36.468Mark WebberQ1
McLarenLewis Hamilton1’34.463+0.0421’34.421Jenson ButtonQ3
FerrariFernando Alonso1’35.119-0.0261’35.145Felipe MassaQ3
MercedesMichael Schumacher1’36.457+0.6071’35.850Nico RosbergQ2
RenaultNick Heidfeld1’36.611+1.4621’35.149Vitaly PetrovQ2
WilliamsRubens Barrichello1’36.465-0.4911’36.956Pastor MaldonadoQ2
Force IndiaAdrian Sutil1’35.874+0.0161’35.858Paul di RestaQ2
SauberKamui Kobayashi1’36.236+0.1831’36.053Sergio PerezQ2
Toro RossoSebastien Buemi1’36.203+0.0451’36.158Jaime AlguersuariQ3
LotusHeikki Kovalainen1’37.894-0.4241’38.318Jarno TrulliQ1
HRTNarain Karthikeyan1’40.445+0.2331’40.212Vitantonio LiuzziQ1
VirginTimo Glock1’39.708+0.5891’39.119Jerome d’AmbrosioQ1

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap combined.

  • Having been within half a second of reaching Q2 in Sepang, Lotus struggled in the cooler conditions in Shanghai, and were well over one-and-a-half seconds away. They can’t have been expecting the car in front of them would be a Red Bull, though.
  • Michael Schumacher had another problem with his Drag Reduction System on his last effort in Q2. His sector times indicate at least eighth place was possible instead of 14th.
  • Hamilton did not have the luxury of two runs in Q3 and probably missed out on second place because of it.
Pos#DriverUltimate lapGapDeficit to bestActual position
11Sebastian Vettel1’33.7060.0001
23Lewis Hamilton1’34.3560.6500.1073
34Jenson Button1’34.4210.7150.0002
48Nico Rosberg1’34.6430.9370.0274
55Fernando Alonso1’35.0681.3620.0515
66Felipe Massa1’35.1081.4020.0376
710Vitaly Petrov1’35.1491.4430.00010
87Michael Schumacher1’35.4371.7311.02014
918Sebastien Buemi1’35.5001.7940.7039
1019Jaime Alguersuari1’35.5491.8430.6097
1115Paul di Resta1’35.6811.9750.5098
1217Sergio Perez1’35.7132.0070.34012
1314Adrian Sutil1’35.8162.1100.05811
1416Kamui Kobayashi1’35.8852.1790.35113
159Nick Heidfeld1’35.9102.2040.70116
1611Rubens Barrichello1’35.9112.2050.55415
1712Pastor Maldonado1’36.0062.3000.95017
182Mark Webber1’36.1442.4380.32418
1920Heikki Kovalainen1’37.8944.1880.00019
2021Jarno Trulli1’38.3184.6120.00020
2125Jerome d’Ambrosio1’39.0715.3650.04821
2224Timo Glock1’39.6055.8990.10322
2323Vitantonio Liuzzi1’39.8646.1580.34823
2422Narain Karthikeyan1’40.3696.6630.07624

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel24.839 (1)27.936 (1)40.931 (1)
Jenson Button24.967 (2)28.188 (3)41.266 (4)
Lewis Hamilton25.057 (3)28.148 (2)41.151 (3)
Nico Rosberg25.150 (6)28.424 (5)41.069 (2)
Fernando Alonso25.222 (11)28.381 (4)41.465 (5)
Felipe Massa25.111 (5)28.439 (6)41.558 (6)
Jaime Alguersuari25.188 (9)28.650 (13)41.711 (10)
Paul di Resta25.274 (13)28.607 (11)41.800 (12)
Sebastien Buemi25.166 (7)28.557 (8)41.777 (11)
Vitaly Petrov25.078 (4)28.509 (7)41.562 (7)
Adrian Sutil25.211 (10)28.691 (16)41.914 (15)
Sergio Perez25.372 (16)28.685 (15)41.656 (9)
Kamui Kobayashi25.409 (17)28.575 (9)41.901 (13)
Michael Schumacher25.229 (12)28.588 (10)41.620 (8)
Rubens Barrichello25.346 (15)28.656 (14)41.909 (14)
Nick Heidfeld25.168 (8)28.700 (18)42.042 (17)
Pastor Maldonado25.325 (14)28.620 (12)42.061 (18)
Mark Webber25.473 (18)28.693 (17)41.978 (16)
Heikki Kovalainen25.857 (19)29.391 (19)42.646 (19)
Jarno Trulli25.906 (20)29.492 (20)42.920 (20)
Jerome d’Ambrosio26.178 (21)29.704 (21)43.189 (21)
Timo Glock26.320 (23)29.908 (22)43.377 (22)
Vitantonio Liuzzi26.214 (22)30.076 (23)43.574 (23)
Narain Karthikeyan26.426 (24)30.343 (24)43.600 (24)

Maximum speeds

  • The Renaults have the highest top speeds which should prove useful as they fight their way up from tenth and 16th.
  • Surprisingly little difference between the two Red Bulls despite Webber not having KERS
PosDriverCarSpeed (kph)Gap
1Nick HeidfeldRenault322.6
2Vitaly PetrovRenault322.5-0.1
3Pastor MaldonadoWilliams322.0-0.6
4Rubens BarrichelloWilliams322.0-0.6
5Paul di RestaForce India320.7-1.9
6Adrian SutilForce India320.6-2.0
7Sergio PerezSauber318.6-4.0
8Kamui KobayashiSauber318.4-4.2
9Michael SchumacherMercedes317.9-4.7
10Nico RosbergMercedes317.4-5.2
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull316.9-5.7
12Felipe MassaFerrari316.9-5.7
13Fernando AlonsoFerrari316.8-5.8
14Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso316.7-5.9
15Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso316.3-6.3
16Mark WebberRed Bull316.0-6.6
17Lewis HamiltonMcLaren315.3-7.3
18Jenson ButtonMcLaren315.1-7.5
19Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin312.6-10.0
20Timo GlockVirgin312.4-10.2
21Heikki KovalainenLotus312.1-10.5
22Jarno TrulliLotus311.7-10.9
23Narain KarthikeyanHRT308.0-14.6
24Vitantonio LiuzziHRT307.6-15.0

2011 Chinese 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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    52 comments on “Mercedes progress despite Schumacher’s DRS trouble”

    1. Didn’t Schumi have a few rear wing problems last year as well? Some voice in my head is telling my that its just become a standard non-disprovable excuse for him.

      1. Right, so the seven-time world champion is content to bumble around the track in 14th and blame some phantom ‘rear wing’ issue. Riiight.

        People forget Michael’s skill and determination so very quickly.

        1. Schumacher is helping people forget

        2. Because he hasn’t shown it since he made his comeback. And exactly because of his legend status, he may feel the the need for excuses. There is no denying the fact that he has lost his edge.
          I was hoping for improvement from him, because I have a lot of respect for him, and more competitive field is more exciting, but it simply hasn’t happened and probably wont.

          1. Well it has happened, many times, it just hasn’t taken form over a whole weekend, or generally in terms of pace.

    2. Keith, sic at third point below ‘Q times in full: ‘Nico Rosberg showed much better performance from the Mercedes, out-qualifying both Ferraris and coming within two tenths of a second of the Ferraris’.

      The second ‘Ferraris’ should be McLarens.

      1. Thanks – fixed.

    3. Don’t how much longer can Schumacher give more reasons for his failure to get into Q3. At once I was his biggest fan now I feel bad that he has to fight in midfield and come up with silly reasons after every session.

      1. Seems like a legit reason to me.

        1. Bigbadderboom
          16th April 2011, 15:51

          I agree, he just seems to lack that extra 5% required to make it happen. I actually looked forward to his return and thought it would be good to have another WDC on the grid. But I’m beggining to think this was a mistake, and perhaps although only a few years ago his success was of a different era.

          1. look at the article. schumi set a 1:35.5 in first session.

            he was a second slower in q2 due to wing. and probably tyres not being warmed up cos sitting in pits so long.

            but anyway, the pace was there

          2. Lets wait for the race. MSC is brilliant compared to Brittney..

    4. Keith you said it was surprising there was barely any difference between vettels KERS equipped car and webbers. But it’s not at all surprising since KERS is an acceleration boost of sorts, rather than affecting top speeds. At the en of the 1.2km straight, drag and gear ratios are the effectors on top speed.
      Vetted probably got to his top speed quicker than webber, due to KERS, but like I said, after 1.2km, theyd both hit top speed.

      1. Fair point – goes to show how little difference KERS (under the current regulations) actually makes.

      2. Yes . If the driver is hitting top speed earlier, then that means he’s covering greater distance at high speed. Time = Speed/Distance. Remember the margins we are talking about are actually small – 0.3s is the standard figure for KERS – that they do take only a short time to manifest. After all, we’re talking about 0.3% of the laptime here.

        1. Exactly, things like KERS and the DRS…they are all about acceleration rather than top speed.

          1. Mostly yes, but DRS also reduces drag overal and therefore increases the topspeed (but DRS worked for both, so no difference there).

            1. Also, as both Vettel and Webber were bouncing off the limiter, we can safely assume that the DRS does not determine top-speed, but rather the gear ratios.

            2. Makes Red Bull look a bit silly when they can’t overtake.

              Actually, considering how chaotic races are going to be this year, and how important it will be to make passes. Don’t you think it might be worth sacrificing a very slight bit of pace, to actually be able to utilise slipstream + DRS?

    5. Bigbadderboom
      16th April 2011, 15:42

      Keith, why suprised that despite no KERS the red bulls top end was similar. KERS does not change the gearing, and as all the cars are bouncing of their limiters on the straight there wouldn’t be a noticable difference unless the gearing on the two cars was setup differently.

    6. Ferrari were possibly even the 5th fastest team in qualifying, as I think Petrov probably could have outqualified them.

      I think their race pace should be more competitive compared to the Mercedes and Renaults though.

      1. Good catch there, ed.

        Looking at their times from Q2, Petrov was actually just a bit ahead of both Ferraris, and had his car not failed he may have improved enough in Q3 to stay ahead of both of them. Even with the failure, Petrov’s Q2 time is only 0.03s slower than Alonso’s time in Q3.

    7. hey mateuss… pretty sure the drs system did not exist last year… you fast chatin haters are pretty non aware type…

      1. Yeah :D I am very much aware of that, but I said rear wing problems not DRS. I seem to remember there were a number of occasion when they were reporting stalling wing issues (as they had passive F-ducts last year), but where my memory falls short is remembering weather Rosberg also was affected? At least it wasn’t an excuse for him for not making Q3, as he did not need one.

        It does seem a legit reason, but odd at the same time, when his wing stalls exactly when he is under pressure (on last qualy attempts), and his team mates does not seem affected. Maybe it is a genuine problem, but rather one because he himself just cant make it happen. Like Webber saying today, I had a hard compound tyre problem (fortunately he is very much straight forward guy and wouldn’t excuse himself like that). Normally I wouldn’t be so skeptical of what someone is saying, but I just felt a bit of a déjà vu – MSC falling out of Q2 + stalling wing problems, and not for the first time. I think there is a possibility.

        1. Well so what do you think tyen? That Schumacher is like “Hey, I don’t think I will cut it this time, so let’s mess with the rear wing!”

    8. Hamilton did not have the luxury of two runs in Q3 and probably missed out on second place because of it.

      Just out of interest, why do you think this to be the case?
      In practice Button looked good compared with Hamilton to me.

      1. oops wrong article

        1. Wait no, right article. I’m going to have a lie down…

      2. He chose to save a set of tyres.

        1. Sorry, I mean the

          probably missed out on second place because of it.


      3. I’m guessing because of the ultimate laptimes? I think while it may have cost him P2 on the grid, it may very well gain him P2 or even P1 in the race.

      4. I have to agree the statement doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, given that neither Button nor Vettel completed their second runs after Hamilton failed to beat the time they set with their first attempts.

        1. Button was slower on his second run. I think Keith is referring to the fact Hamilton had a faster ultimate lap time

          1. Ah yes, makes sense now. Cheers jake.

    9. Anyone knows if DRS enabled area is on the whole main straight for tomorrows race?

      1. nope, just the last 752 (i think) metres. Obviously they will have to deactivate it for the last 150 odd to brake

        1. Keith, Jenson said something in the press conference today about the line being moved to 752 metres. Do you know anything about this? is he correct?

    10. 5 tables! How long does it take? They are really detailed and well-made, though, fabulous!

      1. Agree with that. Obviously a lot of work and well appreciated. But you know, some people are never satisfied. For example, I would find it quite informative to have chart for the 10 ten driver’s tire collection status (used/fresh/ruined). Since this season is now “tires-formula,” that is critical information.

    11. Look at Sebs Q2 time: 1’34.776
      Now see my pole time: 01:34.786

      That was extremely close! :O

      1. Last week we had two people within 0.001s, one either side:

        F1 Fanatic Predictions Championship race-by-race statistics (select ‘Malaysia’)

    12. tisk tisk tisk, what ever next schumi…

      “I sneezed on the straight which cost me a second”

      1. Well I think I finally figured out the ‘Scumacher surprise’ Ross Brawn was talking about during pre-season testing – A hat trick of Q2 exits!

    13. What’s the point of having a 107% rule if the top teams aren’t setting a competitive time in Q1. Karthikeyan wouldn’t have made the race if the 107% rule was applied to the best times.

    14. Seems alot of people are talking about schumacher so we should not forgot that the last 2 mins of qualifying were not the standard affair.

      It was completely inevitable that some of the drivers in that 11? car long queue were going to miss out by running in dirty air. Massa would have failed to get to q 3 if he haddn’t passed perez right at the start of his outlap. heidfeld did drop out but no one’s slating him. I’m guessing because you all already got egg on your face with the way he bounced back to take a podium in malaysia after his oz showing.

      Finally drawing an absolute speed comparison between them is impossible since schumachers fastest times of any weekend so far have come in Q 2 when he would have likely not been running in the ultimate engine setting. So at the moment we can only base their speeds on sessions they both took part in which at the moment indicate a good even fight between them even if you discount the malaysia race where schumacher completely outraced nico.

      It’s the start of the season and the term “knee jerk reaction” goes no where near to covering how over exaggerated peoples reactions are to grand prix racing at the moment. First the tyres were terrible after a winter testing period in sub 15 degree temperature then in australia they were to effective. Where as the drs was not good enough in australia then in malaysia it was to good, heifeld judged a failer at oz and a hero at malaysia. If you are all really f1 fanatics why do you have such difficulty in understanding that it’s a learning process to the teams as much as it is to us this season. It’s alot closer than any of you are giving credit for at mercedes and that’s something you can bet on.

      1. Ah, now this is a proper comment, none of that ‘COTD!!!!!!’ nonsense for badly written jokes, just a proper point of view that sums up many people on this forum. Yes, Schumi has been disappointing in Quali, but his race pace and racecraft is still good, look at the start he had in Malaysia.

        Oh, and another thing, can we stop all the Ferrari bashing, because yes in ultimate lap times Ferrari may be only 4th or 5th fastest, but funnily enough they are the second team in terms of the starting positions on the grid this weekend, and as Webber proved, it’s not how fast the car is, it’s how the driver dials up a lap when it counts, and for all the negativity here, Ferrari got an under performing car on 5th and 6th when many reckon they should be 9th and 10th or lower

      2. Spot on. Alot of people are just so quick to criticise. It gets boring pretty quickly.

    15. Prisoner Monkeys
      17th April 2011, 2:13

      You know, looking at it, I’m not sure I get the whole argument that the DRS should be available under the same conditions in the race and in qualifying. Because when you really think about it, racing and qualifying are two vastly different ways of driving. Qualifying is all about getting in a single perfect flying lap; racing is about long stints, managing fuel and tyres and strategy.

      When the new engine and design regulations come into effect for 2013, I would not object if the sporting rules were amended to include a slightly different qualifying procedure. Keep the knockout format, but give teams special qualifying tyres that can only be used during qualifying, and limit each driver to doing one flying lap in each period to put maximum pressure on them. Give them an unlimited DRS and KERS for qualifying as well. Tailor everything to essentially turn qualifying into an event as well. You could even take a leaf out of the WRC’s book with the Power Stages and award one point for the fastest Q1 time, two points for Q2 and three point for whoever ultimately gets on pole. And whoever is fastest in Q1 automatically qualifies third, whoever is fastest in Q2 is second and whoever is fastest in Q3 is on pole with everyone else lining up based on times – but the catch is that if you enter into the next qualifying period, you give up the grid place you had secured.

    16. Interesting to see what have might been for Renault here. They had a lot of speed that did not come out at the right moment.

    17. wow i must admit – it will be better for Schumacher to leave the sport as a driver. why doesn’t he start his own team? he just isn’t competitive any more. don’t get me wrong, i’m a big schumacher fan but i feel the time has come for him to move on.

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