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Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 eval: Mercedes GP

STUTTGART, GERMANY - JANUARY 25: Last year's Brawn GP Formula One car is seen in the new colours of the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team during a presentation at Mercedes Museum on January 25, 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Synopsis: Mercedes decision to become a team owner, buying out 2009 champions Brawn GP, comes at an odd time. The economy is struggling and the manufacturers (including rival BMW) have or are pulling out of the sport, and Merc already had a good thing going with McLaren. Obviously, it had acquired a topnotch organization and retained Ross Brawn, but the drivers champion left for McLaren and Rubens Barrichello went to Williams. In their place, the highly touted Nico Rosberg and octogenarian Michael Schumacher. By debut standards, Mercedes had a good year, but when you factor in it took over a champion, a distant fourth isn’t much to write home about, especially when second went to a customer squad.

Points: 214

Highlight: Strong early season performances by Nico Rosberg, including thirds in Malaysia and China, had the team sniffing contention. Rosberg’s 2010 as a whole proved he has the ability to win championships.

SPA FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 29: Nico Rosberg (L) of Germany and Mercedes GP and team mate Michael Schumacher (R) of Germany and Mercedes GP drive during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of Spa Francorchamps on August 29, 2010 in Spa Francorchamps, Belgium. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Lowlight: Signing Michael Schumacher, reuniting the Brawn/Schumacher pairing, surly played well to the home crowd. But at 41, in a game increasingly played by 19 to 25 year olds, why? When you have Rosberg, why? It all makes sense for Schumacher, but Mercedes?


Mar. 14, 2010 - 05625250 date 14 03 2010 Copyright imago Andreas Suppl Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes Team photo Pitlane Mercedes Box 14 03 2010 F1 Bahrain motor aviation men Formula 1 F1 F World Cup GP Bahrain Manama Sakhir Vdig 2010 horizontal premiumd.

  • Nico Rosberg is among a handful of drivers who really impressed in 2010. Moving over from Williams, the German looked poised to make a run at the title as lead driver. Then Schumacher was signed and in a moment Rosberg looked to be the number two. But Rosberg went to work, and out drove the seven-times world champion, amassing 142 points, scoring in 15 of 19 races.
  • Michael Schumacher looked out of step in 2010. Seventy-two points, no wins, no poles, no fastest laps. After three years away from the sport, and at 41, this was to be expected for a time. But Schumacher was anticipated to handle Rosberg. Instead, there were a lot of stories about how the car and tires didn’t suit Schumacher. The great ones, including Schumacher in his prime, deliver despite the car’s shortcomings. That’s what his teammate did. And that is proof enough that Michael is “past it.”

Jan. 25, 2010 - Stuttgart, Germany - epa02004993 German Formula One driver and sevenfold Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher (3-R) poses for photographers with (L-R) team principal Ross Brawn, chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dieter Zetsche, teammate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug and CEO of Mercedes GP Petronas Nick Fry with the 2009 racing car with a new paintwork on the occasion of the presentation of the Formula 1 Team Mercedes GP Petronas at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, 25 January 2010.

A look ahead: Brawn admits the transition to Mercedes, along with trimming the staff, led the team to take the eye off the ball a bit in 2010. It is hard to believe that the Brawn/Mercedes combination won’t be better in 2011, and with Rosberg’s technical smarts and driving ability, this could be a team to watch. But will Pirellis and a new chassis really be the answer for Michael Schumacher? It will be very difficult to win a championship on the back of one driver. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


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