2 August 2011
Inauspicious weekend for Mercedes in Hungary
A gearbox failure for Michael Schumacher and a misguided tyre change for Nico Rosberg led to another case of what might have been for Mercedes in Hungary.
It could have been so much better but, in the end, the works Mercedes team had to settle for just two points from the Hungarian Grand Prix as Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher suffered a mix of bad calls and bad luck.
The opening lap suggested that the race, round eleven of the 2011 F1 world championship, could have been a strong one for the Brackley-based team, as both Rosberg and Schumacher made strong starts to move ahead of both Mark Webber and the two Ferraris. However, while the similarly-powered McLarens continued to move forward, the two Silver Arrows struggled in the damp condition and, although Rosberg battled to hold on to his early fourth position, Schumacher quickly slipped backwards.
The seven-time world champion completed two pit-stops before his car subsequently suffered a gearbox problem, which forced Schumacher to park up at the side of the track on lap 26.
"It was an unfortunate end to my race [but], as far as we know, this had nothing to do with the spin I had when fighting with Felipe [Massa], which was mainly caused by avoiding contact," the German noted.
"At the start, we gambled a little with low tyre pressures as we were expecting the track to dry quite quickly, but that turned out to be very slippery to drive. I came in for dry tyres one lap too late, but we can only handle one car at a time obviously. From then onwards, the race developed normally, but I would not have been able to make a very big step forward from the position I was in when I retired."
Rosberg's afternoon also began to go backwards as he was eventually caught and passed by both Alonso and Webber, but the sought-after German remained in the top six for much of the race, until a misguided decision to pit for a return to intermediates saw him drop out of the points.
"I had a decent start today and gained three positions, which was encouraging," Rosberg commented, "In the middle of the race, however, the prime tyres no longer had any grip in the increasingly damp conditions so we took the decision to put on intermediates. Unfortunately, the rain shower proved not to be very strong and we had to switch back to slicks, which cost me a few positions."
Just 16 laps remained after Rosberg completed his fourth and final tyre change on lap 54, but he made the return to the harder Pirelli work in his favour after making up a couple of places before the chequered flag to ensure that Mercedes scored for the fifth race in a row, and the ninth time in eleven races this season.
"I pushed very hard to catch [Sebastien] Buemi and [Paul] di Resta, and managed to close the gap, but it was impossible to overtake them in the last few corners," he admitted, "I collected just two points, but that's still more than last year. Now I'm looking forward to the two races after the break, as Spa and Monza are high-speed tracks where the Mercedes-Benz engine power should be a benefit."
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