Vibrations during his single qualifying lap in Q2 caused Michael Schumacher to miss out on a place in the top-ten shoot-out by exactly one tenth of a second in Korea today.
The Mercedes driver was heard complaining of the vibration on his out-lap but opted to complete his run rather than head straight back into the pits to diagnose the problem. He will start tomorrow’s race from P12 but, for the seven-time world champion, every cloud has a silver lining.
“To start with the positives of today’s qualifying, I have saved two fresh sets of option tyres which is always helpful,” he said. “On the other hand, it was obviously a pity what happened.
“Everything went normally in Q1, and from what you can expect of the tyres under normal circumstances, it was absolutely justified to go for just one run in Q2. But unfortunately I could feel that something was not right when leaving the pits as I had vibrations straight away. All that was left for us to do was hope that the gap would be big enough to remain in the top ten but that turned out not to be the case.
“We will now have a close look into what exactly happened and fully concentrate on trying to make up some positions in the race tomorrow.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg had a much more straightforward session, which culminated in the German grabbing P7 behind the two McLarens, Red Bulls and Ferraris.
“I’m quite pleased with today,” said Rosberg. “To find the right set-up for the qualifying and the race is always a compromise, particularly after such limited dry running, so I’m happy that we saved one set of option tyres.
“It will be tough to catch one of the top six drivers tomorrow but hopefully I’ll have a good start and may be able to gain a position there. It will be an interesting race from the tyre perspective with a lot of stops, and I’m confident that our boys will do a great job in the pits again.”
Ross Brawn is anticipating an interesting race tomorrow, and thinks that Schumacher, who finished fourth in this race last season, should still be able to do something from twelfth place.
“It was a straightforward afternoon for Nico, and P7 represents what the car was capable of,” explained the Mercedes team principal. “We took a balanced approach to tyre usage with Nico making a single run in each session, and he goes into the race with one new set of options and two new sets of primes. The uncertainty over tyre performance after yesterday’s wet running meant we wanted to keep as many new sets back as we could, although the performance is now looking more consistent than had been anticipated.
“Michael’s pace on the prime in Q1 was very good, then as he went out on the options in Q2, he complained of a vibration. We debated whether to change tyres, but decided to stay out and try for the lap time. In the end, the pace did not reflect what the car was capable of, and there wasn’t enough time to complete another run. Even so, Michael was just one tenth away from Q3, and he will have opportunities tomorrow.
“The track is definitely rubbering in after the rain, but the sparse support race programme means this is not happening as much as at other circuits. It will be very interesting to see what the race has in store.”