It was a tale of two tyres for Mercedes – and Nico Rosberg – in particular in qualifying today. On the harder tyre in Q1 and Q2 the two drivers were regularly appearing in top three positions – indeed Rosberg finished second and then third in these two sessions – but on switching to the softer Bridgestone rubber in Q3, eighth and ninth on the grid was all the team could achieve.
Michael Schumacher out-qualified is younger teammate on his first visit to Abu Dhabi, but thinks he could have done better. The seven-time world champion said that he is enjoying his first experience of the Yas Marina circuit.
“We've had a pretty straightforward weekend at this fantastic venue. I really enjoy driving here, the atmosphere is great and driving from day into night is very special. It's a big spectacle and I hope the race adds to it.”
Rosberg says that the softer option tyres just didn’t suit his car today in qualifying, but using them in Q3 was necessary for tomorrow: “The speed was there today, however unfortunately only on the hard tyre, so it's disappointing to be starting from ninth place on the grid. For our race strategy, I had to run the options in Q3 and I just struggled with them all the way through qualifying.”
However, Ross Brawn points out that the drivers’ speed on the harder prime tyre is a cause for optimism as they look ahead to the final race of the season, where these tyres will be used for the majority of the 55 laps.
“We made very solid progress into Q3 today with the car looking pretty reasonable throughout qualifying,” said the Mercedes team principal, summarising the team’s day.
“However we were much better on the prime tyre with both Nico and Michael struggling on the option in Q3. This gives us reason to be optimistic in the race tomorrow when we should be on the right strategy. Overall we're in a reasonable position.”