Gray Matter: What will Schumi do next...? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-25-2010, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Gray Matter: What will Schumi do next...?

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Will Gray
Gray Matter: What will Schumi do next...?

Thu Mar 25 05:06PM

Michael Schumacher was beaten hands-down by team-mate Nico Rosberg on his return to F1 in Bahrain - but how is he really performing and how long will it take him to get back on the pace?

Seven-times champion Schumacher's return to the F1 grid was like Shane Warne returning to cricket, creating the hype and then failing to get a single wicket. In Schumacher's case, he got the F1 equivalent of a duck as he failed to better Rosberg in any pre-race session then finished behind the younger German in the race itself.

So what will Schumacher do to rectify the situation?

Well, firstly, it is important to point out the scale of the issue. The sound beating is not all that it seemed and while Rosberg got the upper hand in every session, there were clear signs that Schumacher was very much on a re-learning curve - and progressing up it quickly.

Schumacher's first day back at the track on a race weekend saw him 0.45s-0.5s off Rosberg's pace. A day later, he was just 0.165s off after final practice, and in the first part of qualifying he was just 0.130s slower.

It was then when things went to the wall. The format of qualifying is completely new to Schumacher, and it is one that requires a unique understanding. The dynamics of the knock-out are not easy to master, and Schumacher was 0.423s off Rosberg in Q2 and 0.283s slower in Q3, two places back on the grid, in seventh.

Schumacher had admitted after qualifying he still had things to get used to, but cautioned: "I just need to get the rhythm...slowly and progressively it has improved."

It improved again in the race. The graph of time off the lead car for the pair shows virtually parallel lines, meaning that throughout the race they were mostly matched for pace - and Schumacher actually narrowly beat Rosberg on fastest lap time, with a 2m00.204 versus Rosberg's 2m00.236.

So all in all, perhaps it was not the drama that it was made out to be.

Many expected Schumacher to wipe the floor with his team-mate straight out the box, but as the returning champion said, it was "the first race of a new challenge".

Schumacher is now experiencing a number of differences to F1 2006 that his rivals are already well used to. The changed qualifying format is one, but also three years of development in F1 is significant and the additional alterations to the rules have changed the balance of downforce and the way it influences the car's handling.

Also, the end of a tyre war and the return of slick tyres has dramatically altered the grip level of the cars.

Also, back in the day, Schumacher would effectively choose his team-mate, picking drivers whose talent would naturally allow him to take the team lead. This year, Rosberg got in early and is ready for a fight. Which is why their relative performance in this weekend's race could hint at how successful Schumacher's comeback challenge will be.

Schumi appeared shocked, maybe even embarrassed, by his performance in Bahrain and he was quick to steer discussion towards the state of F1 rather than focusing on the state of his comeback. In Australia, he admitted Rosberg is fast and calmly said he did "not need to be ashamed" about his own performance in Bahrain.

Rosberg, in contrast, has been candidly talking the talk, trying to say "I expected to be faster" without directly stating it.

But this is where Schumacher could be at his most dangerous.

Like Jose Mourinho analysed Chelsea before his Inter Milan team rolled them over in the Champions League, Schumacher will have analysed in detail where his and Rosberg's performances differed ahead of this weekend and will know where to pounce. Rosberg, who has been known at times for not being as committed as he should, had better be ready.

Schumacher's old team-mate Rubens Barrichello claims he has more to lose than to gain with this comeback, but does he really? In actual fact, his records are in the bag, everyone knows how good he was, and if he fails to match the new German hotshot then so be it. If he does beat him, then it's another feather in his cap.

And right now, rather unexpectedly, that is his challenge...
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-25-2010, 07:12 PM
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Great stuff.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-25-2010, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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A man of my experience (read old fart) has little choice but to support Schumacher's efforts.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 09:20 AM
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I don't care who wins as long as he drives a silver arrow! It would be nice for Schumi to catch up with Rosberg and battle it out on the track. I can barely wait for the first 1-2 finish!
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 10:40 AM
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As we know racing is a team effort and driving skills can not compensate for a poor handling or unreliable car. Shumi prefer over-steering cars, just his style, while the current car understeers.

I am sure the Team is working on changing the handling geometry of the car. I sure hope to see him win a few races and winning the championship will just be wonderful for a 41 year old driver with 7 titles under his belt already.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-26-2010, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Teutone View Post
A man of my experience (read old fart) has little choice but to support Schumacher's efforts.
I'm completely on board with your comment.

Let's here it for those old guys (I'm one of them! ) Michael outshined Rosberg in practice today but those are unknown factors.

On with qualifying and the race!
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