When Michael Schumacher returned to Formula One in 2010 he would not have expected to be outpaced by his team-mate, but that is precisely what happened. Nico Rosberg was easily the more competitive driver in 2010 and again in 2011, although Schumacher had certainly recovered some of his speed by the second year of his comeback.
In 2012, however, the story is somewhat different. Rosberg leads Schumacher in the points table, but behind that difference is a tale of two cars – one reliable, one not. Schumacher has retired six times in 13 races, whereas Rosberg has finished every time. Only once was Schumacher’s retirement his own doing – in Spain, where he crashed into Bruno Senna. The other five DNF’s were caused by failures on the car or mistakes by the pit crew.
Looking at only those races where both cars finished, Rosberg has beaten Schumacher only once – in Bahrain, where Schumacher started 22nd after a DRS failure in qualifying and a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox. The other six time both cars have finished, Schumacher has been ahead.
Schumacher has never been beaten by a team-mate in Formula One until he joined Mercedes. He will not have enjoyed seeing Rosberg ahead of him for two seasons, and will be much gratified to be Mercedes’ quicker driver at the moment. Whether or not this form will continue to the end of the season remains to be seen, but it promises to deliver an interesting battle between the team-mates in the remaining seven races of 2012.