2011 F1 driver rankings no.4: Nico Rosberg

2011 F1 season review

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Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Rosberg beat Schumacher once again

Nico Rosberg continues to keep his illustrious team mate well-handled and continues to get too little credit for it.

Rosberg’s margin over Schumacher was reduced in their second year at Mercedes, but that was only to be expected.

In particular the scale of Rosberg’s superiority in qualifying was overwhelming. He was only beaten by his team mate on merit once all year.

In a car seldom deserving of better than seventh, Rosberg qualified there or better 15 times. There’s no doubting which driver put the W02 where it belonged on the grid.

That tended to inflate expectations of what Rosberg could achieve on race day beyond what was realistic. The car was rarely up to beating a Ferrari over a stint.

On race day the W02s tended to gravitate towards their ordinary position in the pecking order. For Schumacher that meant making up lost ground. For Rosberg that meant losing places he had little chance of keeping, particularly in the new DRS era.

Beat team mate in qualifying15/17
Beat team mate in race7/13
Races finished17/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate615/873

Belgium was a case in point. He made the start of the year to take the lead from fifth on the grid. But it was only a matter of time before the faster cars slipstreamed past him.

He ended up being passed by his team mate when a safety car period contrived to leave Rosberg leading the pair of them on the harder, slower tyres.

Similarly, he did an admirable job of holding Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa back in Korea before bowing to the inevitable.

Another fine drive in China, where he led for 14 laps, was ill-rewarded when he had to drop back to save fuel as the team had put too little in the cars. He was holding off eventual winner Lewis Hamilton when he received the instruction to back off.

Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Leading under pressure at Spa

Rosberg scored in 11 of the last 12 races, only missing out on the points when he was taken out by Vitantonio Liuzzi in Monza.

The growing battle between the two Mercedes drivers was exemplified in a fraught first-lap encounter in Abu Dhabi. The pair raced wheel-to-wheel as if they were fighting for the world championship on the last lap of the race, not sixth place on lap one.

Rosberg prevailed, and led Schumacher home while finishing within two seconds of Massa. This put him on course to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.

This was a somewhat inevitable result – but it’s hard to see how anyone else might have finished higher given the same machinery.

Rosberg’s unobtrusive style does not win him the kind of acclaim enjoyed by more spectacular drivers. But it continued to serve him very well in 2011.

F1 Fanatics on Nico Rosberg

Very rarely made mistakes, and often seen dicing with the front runners, like in China and Belgium, where he led.
David A

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Valencia, 2011
Started seventh, finished seventh: Valencia was a typical race

A win must be soon for him surely, led in Belgium after a great start.

Challenged for the lead on several occasions throughout the year but was let down by yet another mediocre Formula 1 car. I?m hoping Mercedes can lift their game and provide him with something that allows him to show his talent.

He?s still improving and seems to be bringing home the maximum points Mercedes are able to achieve each weekend, although we?re yet to see a truly inspired drive from him, which is worrying for a supposed top line driver in his sixth season.

Always there or thereabout after the big three teams lock out the major points positions. Beat his vastly improving seven-time world champion team mate.
Colossal Squid

Nico Rosberg 2011 form guide

2011 F1 season review

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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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116 comments on “2011 F1 driver rankings no.4: Nico Rosberg”

  1. Rosberg is just too high here. He didn’t score the team’s best result this year (Canada), and didn’t have the best drive of the season (Belgium), either.

    Sure, he beat Schumacher, but if he’s really that good, shouldn’t he have beaten him by more this season, not less?

    Also, Keith, I’m sorry but you don’t score any points for doing well on Saturday. It’s the race that counts. And Rosberg was totally anonymous.

    I’d take Rosberg at 6 – or maybe even at 5. But not 4.

    1. It’s the race that counts. And Rosberg was totally anonymous.

      It is the finishing position in the race that counts, not how eye-catching the performance was. He was consistent, beat Schumacher in the championship, and didn’t make any stupid mistakes. He is following the same sort of career progression as Button.

      1. If we’re talking finishing position, Schumacher had higher finishes than Rosberg.

        4th – MSC 1, ROS 0
        5th – MSC 3, ROS 2

        Yes, he beat Schumacher in the championship, which is why I concede he should be ranked higher than Michael. But certainly not by this much.

        As for Button, he finished 2nd in the WDC in his 5th full season, with 10 podiums that year. Rosberg has now had 6 seasons in the sport, with 4 podiums total. If anything, I think Rosberg is following the career progression of Nick Heidfeld.

        1. Button finished 3rd in ’04, and the BAR that year was significantly better than any car Rosberg has had in his career. Even Takuma Sato got a podium in it!

          If Rosberg gets a good car that is when we will really see whats he’s made of, I personally would have him 5th behind Hamilton, and Schumacher probably about 8th.

        2. Nick Heidfeld is exactly the name that comes to my mind when looking at Rosberg and the way he spends his seasons. The only thing I must admit is that Rosberg is better in qualifying, he is really good at that.
          I could imagine him winning a WDC without winning a single race or maybe one race. Wait, where did I see that before?!??! Maybe I’m a bit harsh but I just don’t see him driving a car to places it shouldn’t be for an entire race.

          1. hahaha yes, precisely, britney is just like quick-nick. good consistens, but not championlike driver. very usefull as no 2 driver for top teams :)

          2. Like father like son eh. I know Keke only won one race in ’82 and won the title but Pironi’s crash and Villeneuve’s death had a lot to do with that.

            I was always under the impression Keke Rosbeg was a spectacular racer though, and the one thing people seem to criticise Nico for is being anonymous in races. Maybe he should drive a bit more like his Dad!

          3. Indeed, his father was a real fighter in the car (didn’t they call him streetfighter or something .. I seem to remember something like that). While I can’t stand Keke in interviews I like drivers like that. I much rather see a driver going beyond the limit and sometimes failing than a driver who drives to the limit but never beyond. Thats why I liked the rules where only the best results were counted (but I see why most others didn’t).

    2. you don’t score any points for doing well on Saturday

      I’ve heard the cliche and I’m not sold. Would Vettel have won as many races as he did starting off the front row? No.

      It shouldn’t need pointing out that qualifying is important because it decides where drivers start on the grid. If Schumacher’s qualifying had been better perhaps he wouldn’t have had so many collisions in the midfield.

      And Schumacher’s drive at Belgium was only “better” if you looked at the numbers instead of watching the race. Yes, he was unlucky to start where he did and he recovered well. But he was flattered by a crash at the first corner, by not being penalised for going off the track while passing di Resta, and by the timing of the safety car. I’d rate Rosberg’s drives in China and Belgium ahead of it.

      In that case Schumacher started at the back through no fault of his own. But often in 2011 Schumacher’s poor qualifying flattered him on race day because he found himself making up places he needn’t necessarily have had to in the first place.

      Anyway, who would you move in front of Rosberg to relegate him?

      1. Keith 24th on the grid to 5th one place ahead of his team m8 who started 5th phullleeezzzz tell me when rosberg has ever done a drive like that in f1 let alone this year.

        1. “Anyway, who would you move in front of Rosberg to relegate him?”

          In no order.

          barrichello,petrov,kamui,d’ambrosio,kovalainen,jaime all of them got the best out of their car consistantly across the year getting the results that were possible rosberg was no where after the summer break. Infact I would say kovalainen was the 4th best driver this year just because his results don’t reflect that. He consistantly beat jarno by equal or bigger margins than seb jenson or fernando beat their team m8s.

          1. I hardly think beating Jarno Trulli over a season is quite as hard as beating Schumacher.

          2. @TheBrav3 You have made yourself look rather ill informed by mentioning those drivers.

            Barrichello, Petrov, D’Ambrosio and Kobayashi??

            Have a day off there is no way they have done as well as Rosberg. Kovalainen has driven really well but as mentioned Trulli has been terrible so it’s hard to compare.

            And Alguersuari did well, had a very good second half to the year but if Buemi had had better reliability would have been close to him in the points and was better in the first half of the year.

          3. debaser barrichello beat his team m8 again this year and in most races regardless of your opinion of him he is a good driver the car hasn’t been there for him.

            petrov scored a podium when the car was good enough and he finished the season in the points when the car wasn’t good enough.

            d’ambrosio i’ll admit may have been rash but he’s a rookie and he beat glock who’s been on the podium and is known to be no slouch. He didn’t do that badly at all everything is relative.

            Kobayashi scored points in the first (i don’t know) but many races. The car dropped off in performance at the half way point of the season when they stopped developing the ebd. Whilst he may have appeared to had a bad end to the seaon he was still doing well.

            Point being theres drivers who did better than rosberg who had a complete flop at the end of the year. The car wasn’t bad because schumacher was catching him up it was rosberg who failed.

          4. @TheBrav3 – How were those guys better than Rosberg?

            What did Barrichello do? Beat the mighty Maldonado? Ram Rosberg in the season opener?

            Petrov because of an impressive result that turned out to be the hugest of flashes in the pan?

            D’Ambrosio who was beaten easily by Glock?

            Kobayashi who fizzled out in the second half of the season, being beaten then by Perez?

            Alguersuari who didn’t wake up until Canada?

            Just because Rosberg didn’t win a race doesn’t mean that he wasn’t impressive. Rosberg throughout the season appeared to be at or near the potential of his car, and didn’t make mistakes. Far more than can be said about the drivers you mentioned.

          5. David try reading my comments before replying.

            Barrichello did his job he was consistant all year nico was not.

            so was petrov

            Look at the drivers championship genius it says jerome d’ambrosio 24th timo glock 25th

            kobayashi who’s team stopped developing the car after silverstone alguersuari who’s car was good at the end of the season and still scored points at the begining. yes relatively they all had better/more consistant/impressive seasons. Now if you have any arguement to these points please let me know. I however am not going to type the same thing a 3rd time for you to copy and paste someone elses arguement that i have already answered. I’ll say it again read my reply to the other guys who already asked the exact same questions. If you need it in braille please let me know other wise use your eyes that’s what they are for.

          6. @TheBrav3 –

            Look at the drivers championship genius it says jerome d’ambrosio 24th timo glock 25th

            Read the 28-16 ranking article and you’ll see Ambrosio:

            Beat teammate in qualifying: 5/19
            Beat team mate in race: 3/10
            Laps spent ahead of team mate: 197/731

            The only reason he’s classified ahead of Glock is due to two 14th place finishes, in a race where Glock finished right behind him, and a race where Glock had a mechanical problem. On most weekends, it was clear that Glock was well on top. So you can cut the sarcastic BS.

            Barrichello did his job he was consistant all year nico was not.

            so was petrov

            You haven’t even bothered to come up with any examples of why this is the case. Rosberg scored points in 14 races, with a run of 12 races only broken by Liuzzi spinning and collecting him and Petrov. The other non-scores were two 11ths, a 12th, and being rammed by Barrichello. All while outqualifying Schumacher. That is a far better example of consistency than you’ll get out of Barrichello, Alguersuari or Petrov.

            Petrov admittedly did very well in Australia I’ll admit. And what? tell me how many other great drives he had in 2011, where he performed above or at the level of the car. As Keith pointed out, Rosberg’s car usually wasn’t worth more than 7th on a race weekend. He started and finished there or above very often in 2011. Petrov got beaten by the sacked Heidfeld.

            kobayashi who’s team stopped developing the car after silverstone alguersuari who’s car was good at the end of the season and still scored points at the begining.

            Again, the best barometer for comparison was their teammates, and Alguersuari’s form was dismal prior to Canada, where he hadn’t scored a single point against Buemi who had done so three times.

            Kobayashi was very impressive until the half way point, but Perez got the better of him in the second half of the year reflected in the qualifying and in race results.

            But oh yeah, you can think these drivers have been more consistent than Rosberg and his run of points and qualifying results.

            If you’re stupid that is.

        2. So because of one freak result Schumacher had the better season?

          To use your own argument: “phullleeezzzz”

          1. I never said that one race should put schumacher above rosberg, that’s you making stuff up. If you read my other comment. Which you did because you replied to that first. You would know (and you do) that i said kovalainen should be 4th. Before they were team m8’s jarnos “strongest” asset was said to be his qualifying the only reason you think it isn’t is because kova trounced him this year. Consistantly beating jarno by half a second is a feat for anyone, now kindly troll someone you stand a chance of disagreeing with.

          2. lol @ the brave. Jarno’s specialty is qualifying? So I suppose having a 7 time WDC for a teammate is nothing compared to that….yeah, ok.
            Rosberg and Schumacher; both excellent drivers in 2011. The Merc; a dog of a car that chews through its tyres. So when Nico puts it into Q3 and starts the race on those used softs, he’s burned through them way too early in a desperate attempt to keep pace with the faster cars. He pits earlier, loses the strategy battle, while Michael – who so often started from P11 – chooses his tyres, strategy, and then makes one of those demon starts off the line.
            Rosberg was only ever going to lose positions, especially in the year of the DRS. Doesn’t mean he didn’t have excellent races. If Merc give both drivers a decent car, 2012 will be so much better for it.

          3. Yes jarno’s speciality is qualifying ask any driver/team boss before this season. that’s what they would have said. Peoples opinion has changed because kova has ruined him. If you’ve been following formula one for more than a year you should know that. it doesn’t mean he’s no longer fast it just means kova got the best out of it.

            For the last time i am not comparing msc and rosberg i even explicitly state that in the comment above yours if you had cared to read it. I said kova should be 4th not msc or rosberg. If how ever you think rosberg lost out in races because he burned his tyres out who’s fault is that? msc didn’t get in rosbergs car and wreck his tyres there’s only one driver in a single seater.

          4. @TheBrav3 – Not burning his tyres in the car that is notorious for it would have led to him not qualifying as well, and having to come through the field to collect results he would have already achieved by getting himself up the pecking order.

            @Dragon is right, your posts are laughable and a 42 year old 7 time champion is still a better benchmark than a 37 year old Jarno Trulli, despite the reputation he had at Toyota and Renault.

      2. It shouldn’t need pointing out that qualifying is important because it decides where drivers start on the grid. If Schumacher’s qualifying had been better perhaps he wouldn’t have had so many collisions in the midfield.

        By that same token, Rosberg should’ve managed to finish 4th or 5th more often than Michael. Why didn’t he?

        t he was flattered by a crash at the first corner, by not being penalised for going off the track while passing di Resta, and by the timing of the safety car. I’d rate Rosberg’s drives in China and Belgium ahead of it.

        China is a fair point, but certainly not Belgium. I’m not sure how you can rank his drive ahead of Schumacher’s when Schumacher finished ahead of him.

        In that case Schumacher started at the back through no fault of his own. But often in 2011 Schumacher’s poor qualifying flattered him on race day because he found himself making up places he needn’t necessarily have had to in the first place.

        I’m not even looking at that so much. I’m looking more at who had higher race finishes when the opportunity presented itself. Lo and behold, it was Michael more often than not.

        Anyway, who would you move in front of Rosberg to relegate him?

        I’d move Hamilton ahead, for sure. At least he won races – won as many races as Button, in fact, who is in your Top 3.

        It probably says a lot about how awful Webber’s year was that I’m not really fussed if he’s ahead of Rosberg or not.

        1. Hamilton in the Mercedes would not have done any better than Rosberg. Rosberg in the McLaren may not had the same number of wins but he would have had more points finished and less incidents.

      3. Schumacher’s drive at Belgium was only “better” if you looked at the numbers instead of watching the race. Yes, he was unlucky to start where he did and he recovered well. But he was flattered by a crash at the first corner, by not being penalised for going off the track while passing di Resta, and by the timing of the safety car. I’d rate Rosberg’s drives in China and Belgium ahead of it.

        Is that some sort of a bad joke? Seriously? Rosberg was put in a similar situation in the Japanese GP – starting from the back, safety car – and what was the result?

        Are you really denying that Schumacher’s drive from 24th in Belgium was a great drive?!

        I’d love to hear your reasoning.

        1. I guess overtaking was easier in Belgium than in Japan. In some races grid-position wasn’t of great importance, like Belgium. Schumacher made a great start, and because of the safety-car he was close to Rosberg for the remaining part of the race. However, Rosberg’s performance in Japan was disappointing. Maybe his tyre-strategy was too conservative in the race. Overall I think Rosberg did a good job, but it’s a shame his best races were at the beginning of the season.

      4. @keith

        I agree with Rosberg being placed at 4 and also feel he is over looked. But disagree with a few other things.

        “by not being penalised for going off the track while passing di Resta”

        Schumacher was already clearly by Di Resta and in the racing line in front of him by the time he cut the corner. From what I recall the 150 metre breaking boards were showing before the corner when he was already passed and in the racing line so it wasn’t like he cut the corner while passing him.

        I assume it was a typo when said Rosberg’s race at Belgium was better than Schumachers!

        1. 24th to 5th consisted of 9 cars moving out of MS’s way at the start of Belgium…so fully one third of MS’s 27 cars that he passed in the first lap during the season was from a 9 car collision at the start of one race…why are people so insistant that that was something special by MS? And then the pass on PdR was done well enough and ahead of the corner in question, but he was still overcooking it and had to cut the corner and could have easily spun from that or damaged the underside of the car…brilliant stuff, right?

          1. @Keith…excellent summation of NR’s season, and I have said all along that his season has been underrated all along, and now you have said it too. People seem to go to great lengths to promote MS no matter what…if he makes a mistake it’s because he is racing not overdriving…if he passes a bunch of cars at the start that he should have put past him on Saturday, it means NR isn’t as spectacular…huge kudos for beating MS two years in a row…an MS that obviously can barely do any wrong and is a 7 time WDC that simply doesn’t have the car.

          2. While we are at the Belgian Grand Prix let’s not forget Rosberg was told to conserve his engine few laps before Schumacher overtook him.

          3. Ok, can’t believe have to argue some one in the same car who starts 24th and last and ends up in front of their team mate who started 5th didn’t race better that day.

            Here’s on board start of Schumacher up to were he passed Di Resta, then took the racing line before the right corner then cuts the next corner after that one.

          4. Anyway what’s important is Rosberg deserves to be ranked as high as 4th.

  2. In a better car he’d surely be challenging for the championship.

    1. surely my ass..

      1. @marlarkey @steco Of course he would. He is a strong driver and very capable. He could easily mix it with the Vettel’s, Alonso, Button and Hamilton’s of this world.

        He’s certainly better than Massa.

    2. Yeah, him and everyone else…

      Rosberg is far too high here. OK, so he qualified pretty well, but he never set a pole or a fastest lap, and nearly always fell back in the race. He didn’t get a single podium, and his best finish was a pair of fifths. And yet he’s the fourth best driver of the year? Eh?

      If he’s so much better than Schumacher, why did he only beat him by 13 points, especially when MS has more than twice as many retirements and a couple of self-inflicted non-scores?

      You can make all the arguments you like about Rosberg exceeding expectations in the seventh best car, but ultimately he finished, yes, seventh – and only marginally ahead of his team-mate. Successfully meeting expecations doesn’t make you a hero, even if your under-performing team-mate is Michael Schumacher.

      The table does not lie. It shows the best driver-car combinations in order. Rosberg got what he deserved: a position which was merited by the car and just ahead of his team-mate.

      As for the idea that he could be 2012 WDC – that seems a bit premature. Let’s let him win a race first. Or, perhaps, a second place in a race which didn’t turn out later to have been fixed (not that Rosberg had anything to do with Singapore 2008, but he still benefitted from it). He may well be WDC this time next year, but there are a few I’d put ahead of him, starting with the six actual WDCs on the grid.

      1. @Nosey : actually, nico is the youngest driver in F1 history to set the fastest lap, in bahrain 2006 in the williams, though I guess you are talking about 2011.
        He always placed the car where it belongs in the pecking order during qualifying. He couldnt get it any higher cause the top 6 cars were, simply put, better.

        as for the, why only 13 points, is because for nico to get more points, he has to either beat the front 6 cars consistently or Michael should perform even worse. And michael isnt a bad driver.

        Also, by your theory, it sounds a lot like, since he finished 7th in the championship, he should be placed 7th in the standings, regardless of how he drove throughout the year.

        1. OK, so he’s the fourth best driver in 2011 because he got a single fastest lap in one race in 2006? How is this relevant?

          Rosberg had a good year, but he hasn’t produced miracles, and doesn’t deserve to be ahead of drivers who have actually won races and set pole positions.

          The argument that he somehow dragged a mediocre car above its natural position doesn’t make sense: he was driving the seventh fastest car and finished seventh. He also finished seventh in 2009 and 2010. He met expectations exactly. He did well. But he was not the fourth best driver on the grid merely for being competent and reliable. On that basis Hick Heidfield is up there with the greats.

          You have to go with results and achievements, and for me Rosberg’s this year were not substantive enough to merit a standing this high.

          1. Rosberg had a good year, but he hasn’t produced miracles, and doesn’t deserve to be ahead of drivers who have actually won races and set pole positions.

            Rosberg finished 7th in the 4th fastest car as you say, but the two drivers he outranked in this series were Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber, drivers who took wins and poles.

            Webber was 3rd in the fastest car

            Hamilton was 5th in the 2nd fastest car

            Rosberg was better than drivers who won races and took pole positions then.

  3. Rosberg that meant losing places he had little chance of keeping, particularly in the new DRS era.

    Similarly, he did an admirable job of holding Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa back in Korea before bowing to the inevitable.

    that is one of my biggest complaints with DRS, great drives by guys in slower cars are often no longer rewarded.

    you can make a great start or have a great drive to get towards the front in a sub-par car only to get screwed by DRS as soon as another car gets behind you in the DRS zone.

    Schumacher at Montreal was one such example, Brilliant drive to 2nd only to get robbed of a podium by DRS.

    in the past we had great drives like that where a guy would drive a brilliant race to get the car higher than it should have been & he’d be able to defend that place & possibly keep it.
    Nowadays you do the great drive, get the place & then get screwed out of it as soon as you hit the DRS zone, it happened time & time again through 2011 & in most cases as a result cars finished in there natural order with no real surprises as we often saw in the past.

    1. I agree, 2010 may have had worse racing but all the incidents and the amount of different podiums from drivers made it more exciting. 2011 was awful, yeah more overtaking but that was the faster drivers getting by the slower ones. Alonso would of flown past petrov in abu dhabi in 2010 if it was 2011 rules and the tension would of been gone and an even worse race would of happened. It just seemed that the faster teams were so much faster than the slower teams.

  4. I was skeptical before you posted this about whether I would be convinced that Rosberg’s performances were better than Hamilton’s, but you do make a persuasive argument. As with Button in previous years, he has been fast but unspectacular and so easily missed rather than someone like Hamilton who goes on the drive of his life one weekend and then ends up crashing into the “Massa Mobile Chicane”tm the next.

    I think he is a potential future champion if he gets in one of the fastest two cars on the grid.

    1. @Dobin1000

      you do make a persuasive argument

      Thank you!

  5. I’m not one to jump up and down at someone else’s opinion, but even after reading this I struggle to see Rosberg as the 4th best driver of the year. For me he was actually found out to an extent. Decent in qualifying, but anonymous in most of the races – and not in a good way.

    But hey, life would be boring if we all agreed on everything.

  6. Rosberg #4? @Daykind19 am cry.

    Rosberg is a great driver. The man’s first victory is so long overdue. I really hope that next year he gets the success he deserves.

    1. Yes! Its an outrage!

      On a serious note, while Rosberg is good, I don’t think he’s great and I really do think he is hugely over-rated.

  7. The more I see of Rosberg the more I am convinced that he is the real deal. He is not only standing up to the pressure of having a driver with 91 wins and 7 world titles under his belt sharing the same garage, he is showing him how it should be done. His racecraft is solid. He almost never makes any mistakes. He has a real turn of pace as well (in Button kind of way). The first win has to be round the corner, if it isn’t it would be very sad indeed. If you add to all that the fact that he is a PR godsend compared to many drivers, he really should be seen as a more valuable commodity.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time Michael calls it a day Mercedes have got a properly fast car put together and Rosberg is ready to lead the team to a proper tilt at the Championship. Maybe with Hulkenberg alongside him after a season or two at Force India…

  8. In Schumacher’s first career, no team-mate managed to beat him over a full season. Rosberg’s done it twice. Of course it helps that Schumacher’s had a three year break and is a bit old, but beating a 7-time world champion two years in a row is no mean feat. Even Schumi himself said earlier this year that he’s better than he’s ever been – slightly slower, but the experience makes up for that.

    Rosberg is an incredible talent with a great future ahead, and Schumacher’s still very good. I really hope they get a race-winning car for 2012, because seeing them fighting in the midfield reminds me of Alonso’s second stint at Renault.

    1. Even Schumi himself said earlier this year that he’s better than he’s ever been – slightly slower, but the experience makes up for that.

      I couldn’t help laughing when I read the last part of this quote.

  9. I completely agree with everything what’s written in this article. I wish Rosberg’ll take Massa’s place from Ferrari some day…

    1. He doesn’t feel like a Ferrari driver to me, and certainly wouldn’t like being a Number 2 after being on par with Michael for 3+ years.

      Mercedes suits him as a driver and a person, he just needs the car to be a little stronger and he’ll put it where it can be.

      1. He wouldn’t necessarily be a number 2 driver. I think he could seriously challenge Alonso (though Alonso maybe is a tad better driver).
        Staying at Mercedes would be fine for me as well but they gotta improve. Fast.

  10. Completely agree with Rosberg in 4th. He’s been very anonymous due to the middle of nowhere nature of the Mercedes. Schumacher is in the spotlight more, in part because he’s Schumacher, mainly because he’s messed up more and started from places he had no reason to be in in the first place.

    I’ve been a fan of him since I started watching F1 in 2008 and still hope he gets a win sooner rather than later. Let’s hope the Mercedes can mix it up at the front in 2012.

    Vettel first, obviously, Alonso second and Button in third, would be my view.

  11. I’ll repeat my fealing of pre-2010. I’m afraid Rosberg was given a sore deal with Schumacher. If he trashes his team-mate, Schumacher is portrayed as an old man. If Schumi beats him, he’s just been beaten by an old flame. Only a world championship winning car could help Rosberg’s stock as far as the fans go.

    1. And even then it probably wouldn’t help! Look at Button, a driver with a similar style and appraoch to Rosberg. When he won the WDC in 09 everyone said “it was just the car”. It took winning races in ’10 and ’11 for the doubters to actually say “hang on, he really is a bit special.”

      Rosberg gets a raw deal because he isn’t spectacular, he just turns up and does a good job, and most fans don’t acknowledge that!

  12. Well, I still remember Rosberg’s debut race, which probably was his most entertaining race.

    So, his driving just doesn’t resonate well with me and probably a lot of others.

    But looking at the facts, Keith is right.

  13. Keith where has my comment about schumacher being a 42 year old man gone? it was not offense in anyway shape or form.

    1. Seriously i’m waiting to know, don’t you dare go “fia steward” on me.

      1. My comments have also been deleted without giving any explanation. Weird.

        1. Ok i’ll post it again.

          Too little credit for only just beating a 42 year old man? As fernando “the most complete driver on the grid” will tell anyone anyday having 7 world championships does not add 7 tenths of a second to your speed. Just like rosberg he is only human which it seems you have forgotten. They are both capable of the same thing the difference being at his age msc should be falling asleep on the sofa and working on his beer belly. Not missing out on a podium by the skin of his teeth in one of the most cut-throat sports in the world during the longest race in the history of f1. In which drivers almost half his age complained about the length of the duration.

          Apologies if this is anyway offends anyone in the galaxy….

          1. There’s no doubt age can take the edge off performance, but people like Fangio might disagree about being too old to compete at 42. And why does the length of Canada make his performance less special?

          2. Jeez @thebrav3 is really intense, relax man, you are ranting so much I have lost track of what your point is lol

  14. I am not sure about Rosberg. He seems more and more like Nick Heidfeld these days. A safe pair of hands, always rock-solid. But there is no flashy performance.

    He doesn’t seem to be able to pull out an out-of-the-world performance which other drivers – Michael at Belgium, Jenson at Canada, Vettel at Monaco, Alonso at Silverstone, Lewis at Korea – do often.

    He is someone who is performing at his maximum every weekend. But unfortunately, his maximum is not spectacular enough.

    1. Totally agree. Rosberg is number 4 driver on the grid? Watzzz??? With only merit point is his consistency? You should be kidding me.

    2. While that may be true, he didn’t counter balance that with incidents, mistakes and poor races like Michael and Hamilton had, which is why he’s ahead of those two.

    3. @sumedh…to cite one race where MS’s day was made much easier when 9 cars moved out of his way at the start, a day that would have been a huge letdown for him had that not happened, and then to also compare NR’s performance to other drivers who were in top cars seems odd to me…a car that is a distant 4th in the constructors and with the next team down in a distant 5th is not a car that is usually going to provide a driver the chance for an ‘out-of-the-world’ performance. And I don’t think MS’s was. He was lucky he did not have to pass those 9 cars in earnest, because if he had he would have never been where he ended up by the end of the day. NR consistantly maximized the car. MS played catchup most of the season, having to pass cars he should have put behind him on Saturday, and getting into too many tangles as a result.

  15. I have mixed feelings. I’m afraid Rosberg is on his way to become another Heidfeld. Then again, his “illustrious teammate” is not so illustrious second year in a row, therefore beating Schumacher is not such a feat as we now know we should not expect from Michael as much as we did in his Ferrari Era. Sometimes the driver’s results are not spectacular, but the performance of the man behind the wheel is. Kovalainen is IMO such case, not Rosberg. Heikki’s performance was limited by the machinery at his disposal, with Nico I have a strong feeling he has reached his own limit and with better car he would not have significantly better results. To sum up, in my ranking Rosberg is certainly not top-5.

  16. I think that comments about Rosberg being ‘anonymous’ this year are misguided. If we saw less of him, it was only because he consistently qualified as well as the car could conceivably do and then ably held the position without being able to touch the frontrunners (because of the limitations of his machinery). I also think that some people have simply pigeonholed Rosberg since the ‘Britney’ days as somehow not up to snuff, as if physiognomy had anything to do do with racecraft. A final thought: the performance of the Mercedes – safely behind the big three, safely ahead of the others – probably masked what is in fact a worrying peformance gap between the top and the mid-tier teams, which is now set to only grow with the likely abandoning of the RRA.

    1. @Maciek
      This argument that if you qualify the car well, you shouldn’t race onwards just doesn’t add up.

      Look at Schumacher in Monza. Qualified 8th, finished 5th. Beating a Ferrari.
      Or in Japan. Qualified 8th, finished 6th. Beating a Ferrari.
      Or in Canada. Qualified 8th, finished 4th. Beating a Ferrari.
      Or even India. Qualified 12th, finished 5th. Beating a his team-mate and a McLaren.

      So maybe now we can all stop this argument that qualifying well justifies poor race performance.

      1. Hold on a sec there, seems to me you’re putting words in my keyboard, as it were. I never said anything like that a driver shouldn’t “race onwards” or that qualifying well justifies poor race pace. What I am saying is that he was not nearly as ‘anonymous’ as some people seem to think – if we saw Schumacher more on our TV screens, it was mostly due to his having to make up for under-par qualifying, which Rosberg usually did not have to do.

      2. Who is @cduk_mugello arguing with? Who has said that “if you qualify the car well, you shouldn’t race onwards” or “qualifying well justifies poor race performance”?

        1. MANNNNNNNNNNNY people including your self several times.

          1. maybe not in those exact words but certainly it’s been implyed.

          2. I don’t think I need to add much to the climbdown in your second comment.

            But to make it abundantly clear, I neither wrote nor implied anything of the kind.

        2. @KeithCollantine

          Who is @cduk_mugello arguing with?

          Is that a question to the floor or directly at me?

          First, I’m not arguing with anyone, it’s a debate. No hard feelings mate ;)

          As you’ll notice, I didn’t actually use quotation marks – I was paraphrasing.

          That tended to inflate expectations of what Rosberg could achieve on race day beyond what was realistic. The car was rarely up to beating a Ferrari over a stint.

          It’s sentences like that, and many others over the year by plenty of people, that give the impression of an argument that because Rosberg qualifies disproportionately highly, he need not finish ahead of cars in front to be considered as having a good drive.

          Of course, it’s all implicit. We could all play a de-constructionist game and ask who said exactly that.

          Anyhow, I was merely pointing out that Merc drivers could finish ahead of Ferraris and McLarens. The fact that Schumacher finished 4th and 5th more times than Rosberg speaks volumes.

          1. I was paraphrasing

            Paraphrasing is when you change the words but not the meaning.

            You either changed the meaning or quoted someone else. In the absence of the latter it can only be the former.

          2. I’m not looking for a lesson in the English language. This is just petty.

            Like I said, I’m not quoting. There is no quote:

            It’s sentences like that, and many others over the year by plenty of people

            Anyhow, carry on picking apart the words I use rather than what I’m saying.

      3. @cduk_mugello

        This argument that if you qualify the car well, you shouldn’t race onwards just doesn’t add up.

        Hypothetical example in the same car:

        Qualifying 3rd, finishing 3rd > Qualifying 11th, finishing 5th.

        1. @DavidA

          Obviously, you have to take each example on its own merits. After all, you can’t better qualifying first and finishing first!

          My wider point is that Rosberg qualifying in 7th and finishing in 7th doesn’t always represent a great drive.

  17. I think what counts against Rosberg is that, especially in the second part of the year, he didn’t quite seem to get as much out of the tyres on Sundays as Scumacher did. A familiar sight would be Rosberg ahead, with Schumacher behind (because of poor start of midfield troubles) but slowly closing in on him.

  18. Very nice piece on an issue that is not brought out on television! Nico should be given a lot of credit for his consistency compared to Schumi this year!

  19. Nico is an interesting one for me.
    I’ve often felt in qualy he does a good job ad occasionally beats Massa, which shouldn’t happen really.
    But in the races he’s going backwards (maybe down to being passed after good qualy/good starts) but he’s the sort that is a 7.5/10 driver. Rarely has off days but rarely does something that makes me think Wow!
    Maybe the car is the limiting factor for him, it will be interesting if Mercedes with their new staff can build a car capable of challenging for the top 3

  20. At my opinion, Rosberg is the best all-around driver in the F1 at this moment. He always performs well, gets better and better, does what he has to do. But there’s one problem with him: you never see him. He’s always decent, but not spectaculary good or fighting his ass out for the lead. No, he’s always driving great, but that’s it. He needs a win and a good car, not a mediocre car. I agree with journeyer to place him 6th or 5th, but not higher.
    The best word to describe him is: mediocre, still a great driver though.

  21. Also i think often people forget about approach factor. Rosberg almost always got the maximum in qualifying and then went back in a race, while Schumacher almost always did the opposite. Had it not been about colliding in midfield we would be talking about Nico losing to Michael on points. Yes, that’s “what if…” talk right here, i know. But.

    Remember Algersuari talking about sacrificing qualifying in favor of strong race pace? Same pattern here, i reckon. Michael deliberately didn’t bother with qualifying pace much, focusing on the long runs and i think he was right, even if he was forced to battle with people who would rather collide than let Schumacher through – he still remains a trophy to most of the field. But some of the moves were misjudged by the man himself, i must admit.

  22. Rosberg has proved again that he is amazingly fast, he made no mistake in q3 and he was regularly fast in the races, but sometimes he seems that lacks something to be a true top-driver, a winner.

    He has beaten Schumacher again but with a small margin, Michael seems to be faster than him in the races but he has made more mistakes and his qualifying level is low, with less incidents Nico could have been beaten by Michael.

    Next season I expect a greater competence between them, hopefully with a car to achieve podiums and victories. Then, we will see the real level of the young driver.

    1. He’s not really that young any more. If the remaining seats for next season are taken by Paul di Resta, Nico Hülkenberg (both Force India), Adrian Sutil (Williams), and Jaime Alguersuari (HRT), there will be ten drivers on the grid younger than him, and a few others of very similar age. He’s only a couple of retirements away from being one of the sport’s senior drivers – even if he will look fourteen years old forever.

  23. I honestly don’t understand the backlash to putting Rosberg 4th. He had a midfield car that was nowhere near the top three teams. Yet people somehow expected him to get a podium or beat more thoroughly his team mate, widely considered to be one of the greatest drivers of all time!

    He should have smashed his feet through the floor of the car and started running Fred Flintstone style.

    1. Agreed. I think its the Schumi fans who are the most unhappy. Kudos to Keith for making this list, its far different than mine but well justified.

      1. Dunno. I’m a Schumacher fan since 96 and i think it’s fully justified to place Nico ahead of Michael in the list. But i don’t think Nico was better than Hamilton this year, for example. And i don’t think top 4 is where he should be, for that matter.

        This list is largely based on car capabilities and areas of the grid drivers usually found themselves racing at, more than i would take into consideration while compiling. But seeing different perspective is always nice, so thanks for your work Keith.

        1. Everyone has their opinion, I respect that but I can’t accept the over exaggeration for some of the comments. Having Hamilton in front of Rosberg is acceptable for me as well, but some people are suggesting that they Keith should have put Petrov, Kobayashi etc. ahead of him. Thats the pathetic part.

        2. Everyone was better than Hamilton this year. If he’d been in a Red Bull he’d have thrown away the championship with this season’s erratic driving. Hamilton should be a lot lower. Definitely lower than Kovalinen for example who consistently outdrove his car. By comparison Hamilton overdrove.

      2. I’m a huge Schumacher fan, but I can give Rosberg credit where credit is due. Shame other fans can’t do the same.

        1. And shame the hater or AntiSchumi or whatever(obviously not you David A) couldn’t give credit to Schumacher where it’s due too. As for the list i’ll put Hamilton 4th and Rosberg 5th, that’s me.

    2. @colossal-squid Because he was on the podium last year people naturally expected him to be so this year. However, in 2011, it was pretty much a given Vettel was going to be on the podium at every race whereas last year the podium had 3 positions up for grabs but this year only 2.

  24. With reliability so prominent in modern day f1 it is unreasonable to expect the forth fastest car to win or even get on the podium. Rosberg was consistent and had good 1 lap pace on all tracks.

    Beating Schumacher is easy to see, forth best may be a bit of a stretch. That said, the top three were better than him and the 5th and 6th placed drivers under-performed much more often than Rosberg. 2012 will make or break him. Mercedes have had plenty of time to work this car out, and have assembled a string technical team for next year. If the car has race-winning potential, Rosberg must unlock it. If not, he could be in real trouble of becoming the new Heidfeld, personally I hope he becomes the new Hakkinen.

  25. Again, a real surprise to see Rosberg so high up in this list. He is always renowned for his qualifying pace, but so was Jarno Trulli.

    Don’t get me wrong I am a fan of Nico (I won’t forget his amazing debut in his Williams where he finished 7th despite pitting for a nose change and setting the fastest lap) but I don’t believe he extracts the maximum of the car every weekend – certainly nowhere near the extent to what Alonso does. In other words, I don’t feel he is certainly outdriving the car. In this respect, he does remind me of a certain Nick Heidfeld.

    While there were highlights in China, first part of Belgium and Abu Dhabi, Nico was fairly beaten by Force Indias in Germany, Hungary, Singapore and Brazil, and by an STR in Korea.

    In races where both Mercedes drivers have finished it is 4 – 4. I believe if Schumacher had sorted out his qualifying he would probably beat Nico in terms of points.

    1. I think if Schumacher finished more races – think Monaco and Korea – he’d have more points. Alas, it’s just one of those things.

  26. Would like to have seen NR in a Red Bull along with SV. Both have been highly consistent but not spectacular. Almost no mistakes. Both have made the absolute most of their machinery. Only, SV’s machinery was obviously much better.

    So SV gets the WDC and all the accolades and NR gets nothing. But I believe they would have been a very well matched pair and any of them could have won. In my list, SV and NR share the first place as best drivers, ahead of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. And the rest are vastly far behind.

    1. I think Rosberg would be a good replacement for Mark Webber, when he eventually leaves the team or retires – but it won’t happen. I have no doubt that he would score consistently, pick up plenty of podiums and the occasional win, but if today’s Toro Rosso announcement is anything to go by, Red Bull don’t want another driver like that; they are looking for something exceptional.

      I’m not yet convinced that Rosberg is exceptional, though a victory in 2012 would do wonders for him. As well as giving him a huge confidence boost, it would finally cement his place as the Mercedes GP team leader; someone they can build around after Schumacher’s re-retirement.

  27. Nico Rosberg continues to keep his illustrious team mate well-handled and continues to get too little credit for it.

    A truer line never said. I think you have it bang on Keith, as the comments are clearly showing. He’s quietly being relatively successful. I think the only thing missing in his career is a benchmark. I really don’t think Schumacher is that useful a benchmark as we have no idea how he relates to anyone anymore other than Rosberg.

  28. I agree with everyone saying Rosberg was not as impressive as he was last year. Should not be rated this high. In comparison to his team mate he faded in the second half of the season. If you qualify higher than your team mate, he shouldn’t be able to finish ahead of you as often as Schumacher did.

  29. Absolute garbage!
    What did Nico do that puts him above Hamilton? Hamilton got pole in a car that his team mate (ranked 2nd probably ) failed to do. Hamilton won races and showed more racecraft than Nico. Granted he ran into alot of trouble but he was the better driver between the 2.

    1. Hamilton took 1 pole, but squandered numerous others he should have had- Abu Dhabi, Monaco, Japan, Hungary.

      And as you said, Lew got into too much trouble compared to Nico, which counts against him.

      1. And I think the main point is that LH was in a top 3 car…in fact…top 2…NR was in a distant 4th place car…LH squandered a top 2 car too often…NR maximized a distant 4th place car with rock solid consistancy. With a 7 time WDC as a teammate that could have had other drivers shaking in their boots.

  30. Until he wins, none of what is being said about him matters. So far he has been a regular in the top ten but doesn’t have what it takes to challenge the top five. He has shown to be only as good as the car and his only chance to ever win will require a Mercedes Miracle. If they get the car right you will hear more about Schumacher than will be heard of Nico. Nice guy, talented but certainly overated at #4.

    1. Button would have been ranked as highly in 2004 despite failing to win until 2006.

  31. Nico Rosberg was never spectacular, not even when he was leading the Chinese GP because BBC would only showcase the fight between Vettel and Hamilton. Not even when he finished ahead of both the Ferrari’s in China. He again lead the Belgium GP(not those one lap leads before pits), but the onus was again on his teammate who hassled the lesser known rivals, as Rosberg has no-one else to pass but the big 3. His best results in China or Turkey where he finished ahead of a McLaren are just no-shows. Schumacher finishing 4th in the best thing that could have happened to Mercedes GP in 2011 because the failures of Alonso, Hamilton in that race will not be noticed under the biased eye.
    Not making mistakes aka being reliable is no longer a strong point. Better be a driver who appears in the spotlight for passing slower cars than be noticed for achieving something that that the car is capable of. Also his 13 point lead to his teammate is an impoverished show of his cars ability discounting his retirements in Australia and Italy (no fault of his) to that of his team mate who always wanted a new front wing in the early races – in the middle of the race. So Nico Rosberg at 4 is a big NO NO. Next up at 3, the more spectacular ones….

  32. great read, agree with every single one of your points.
    i’d put Rosberg at number three.

    1. THREE!!!?? And who of Alonso, Vettel and Button would you have put below him??

      1. Button. even though i like him.

  33. Rosberg is like Webber. He’s gradually making his way up, but by the time he gets a race winning car, I fear he’ll be (as was the case with Webber) past his prime. It’s a terrible waste of potential unfulfilled (I mean, I can’t definitively label him as a champion as we’ve not seen enough) talent but it’s all part of the business, I suppose.

  34. MSC V.S. Rosberg, we will see next year!

  35. I’ll admit that Rosberg has not dominated his team-mate as much as he did last year, but let’s be realistic. Rosberg, although not expected to do so, completely wiped the floor with Schumacher last year as a result of Schumacher’s 3 year retirement. You could argue that Schumacher has developed more as a driver, but I think that’s as a result of having more to develop into. You always stand a chance of improving when you have more to improve on!

    I think this position is deserved and I do really feel Rosberg is a great driver. All the elements are there; constructor, the best engine in F1, a compatriot to the team and likeability. I believe that the end of the Brawn era did limit their development scope for 2010 and in 2011 the car should have been better, but Rosberg is the man to deliver if/when the W03 does.

    His start in Spa was certainly the best of the season, absolute lightening, loved it!

    Quiet and collected on the grid but he still delivers. I like that.

  36. I just hope he get a good machine sooner or his talent will get rust.

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