There has been a fair bit of discussion on how the recent updates to the Mercedes W01 chassis have helped Michael Schumacher’s performance. The W01 has been plagued with understeer, which Schumacher finds uncongenial to his natural driving style. In Spain, driving a W01 with a lengthened wheelbase, Schumacher managed a fourth place finish. Schumacher publicly indicated that the Mercedes was finally becoming manageable.
Meanwhile, his team mate Nico Rosberg, who previously had outperformed Schumacher at the first four venues of this season, could only manage a 13th place finish. This was widely interpreted as evidence that the team had chosen to develop the car in favor of Schumacher’s driving style, over Rosberg’s.
But Nico Rosberg has rubbished this idea, claiming that he likes understeer no more than Sschumacher does. In fact, as reported in Autosport, Rosberg said, “We drive exactly the same way me and Michael, so it is not that you can build something that suits him better than me.”
Moreover, Rosberg went on to say that the W01 was still hampered by understeer problems, which impacted both his and Schumacher’s performence. “The only fact is that I really struggle with understeer, which we have in the car at the moment,” he said. “But we are looking into that to try to improve it because for sure it is not a good thing for Michael either. It is a bad thing for both of us, and that could be the only thing where I might struggle a bit more in the end.”
Schumacher confirmed that the longer wheelbase didn’t exactly eliminate the understeer problem. “The long wheelbase gives me a better range of set-up solutions,” he said. So the understeer problem still exists, but they’re better equipped to deal with it in terms of setup.
As for Monaco, the site of this weekend’s grand prix, the Mercedes will revert to the shorter wheelbase temporarily, as the street track has such a narrow, twisty layout. Schumacher helped explain the rationale: “If a long wheelbase with better set-up solutions is slower than a short wheelbase with no set-up solutions, then I guess I will take the short wheelbase. And that’s what we most likely will have to face here.”