Nico Rosberg, looking forward to Valencia. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas
Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher have revealed that Mercedes will be bringing further enhancements to their cars as they vie for more pace and better grip to keep abreast of their nearest rivals ahead of the Valencia GP event next weekend.
Rosberg was fairly quick in Canada last weekend, but both drivers suffered from an horrendous qualifying session which saw Rosberg down in 10th and Schumacher a miserable 13th. It’s a situation neither driver can afford to repeat next weekend, especially Schumacher, who was slammed by critics for his mediocre performance in the race.
“I'm really looking forward to the weekend.” revealed Rosberg. “The city is pretty cool and the Spanish fans are always enthusiastic so there should be a good atmosphere around the marina. Valencia is a really good track and not what you would usually expect from a typical street circuit. There are a lot of corners but it's quite fast and flowing which combined with the barriers that line the circuit means that you have to keep your concentration levels high. The last race weekend in Canada was quite a tough one for us but I was pleased to finish in sixth and score decent points after being in thirteenth place on the first lap. Our pace was quick in the race and I hope that the upgrades we have for Valencia will bring further improvements."
(Schumacher watches the monitors in the pits during last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix weekend. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas)
Schumacher will have the additional burden of higher expectations for next weekend’s race in Spain. Adding to that pressure will be the fact that he must also learn a new circuit complicating the weekend ahead of him. "Valencia is a track which I have never raced on before so it will be another new experience for me but one which I am very much looking forward to. I always have been quite good in adapting quickly to new situations and I strongly expect that to be the case in Valencia. I like going into new experiences like this and having detailed discussions with my engineers about the challenge. We will bring further updates for our car which should help to improve the performance. We have already seen that the car has improved steadily over the last few races and in Canada, the pace was better even if unfortunately that did not show in the results. That's why I look forward to travelling to Spain a great deal."
(Schumacher and Ross Brawn. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas)
Ross Brawn: “We were too ambitious”
Regardless of elements within the media and some members of the public’s opinion of him, the team remains behind Schumacher. Ross Brawn blamed bad luck and their overly ambitious tire strategy which wrecked Schumacher’s race chances last weekend.
“We were too ambitious with the use of the option tires which left him [Schumacher] struggling for pace. Looking ahead to Valencia, the circuit is similar to Montreal in many ways with long straights connected by slow corners which should suit our car. We have an upgrade package which will be another good step in our development towards competing at the front of the field.”
There are no specifics from the team regarding what those changes are, but the BBC reported CEO Nick Fry complaining about the effectiveness of Mercedes’ “F-Duct” while also noting they don’t have the special exhaust system being run by Red Bull.
Personally I think there is more to come from Herr Schumacher, and while last weekend's race was less than ideal for him, much of the fault can be blamed on the errant qualifying session in which neither car was up to scratch. Qualifying is vital in the current competition and even the best drivers will find it difficult to make up places from way down the grid order. I have to concede that Rosberg handled the situation better than Schumacher did, but then he also didn't have a puncture requiring an additional pit stop.
We will have to wait until later next week when the cars emerge from their garages, and glimpses of any early form improvement at Friday’s free practice sessions, although that was a bit of a “crap – shoot” last time. Red Bull have traditionally had an advantage on sweeping tracks, but McLaren have improved dramatically in the last few races. It's been an exciting season thus far so roll on next Friday.
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