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 qualifying||15/17|
|Beat team mate in race||7/13|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||615/873|
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.
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.
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?óÔéĽÔäóm hoping Mercedes can lift their game and provide him with something that allows him to show his talent.
He?óÔéĽÔäós still improving and seems to be bringing home the maximum points Mercedes are able to achieve each weekend, although we?óÔéĽÔäóre 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.
2011 F1 season review
- The 2011 F1 season: The complete F1 Fanatic review
- Your 2011 F1 predictions revisited
- 2011 F1 statistics part 3: Stats and facts highlights
- 2011 F1 statistics part two: Vettel’s domination
- 2011 F1 statistics part one: car performance
- New 2011 rules produced best racing of last four years
- What F1 Fanatics really thought of the 2011 season
- Sebastian Vettel voted F1 Fanatic Driver of the Year
- F1 Fanatic’s article highlights of 2011
- Dominant Red Bull join F1’s top teams
Images ?é?® Daimler