The two Mercedes drivers had contrasting fortunes in today’s Chinese Grand Prix qualifying session as Nico Rosberg secured fourth on the grid whilst Michael Schumacher failed to make it out of Q2 and will start tomorrow’s race from fourteenth.
ï»¿“I'm happy with our performance and it was a good day for us,” said Rosberg. “It's clear that we have improved the car this weekend and I'm really pleased for everybody back at the factory who will have enjoyed watching that today.
“We're still not where we want to be but we have made progress and are closer to some of the guys in front of us, today at least. We have also worked hard on the race pace so there is every chance of a good race tomorrow.”
Renault driver Vitaly Petrov caused a red flag in Q2 after he stopped out on track. The session remained with just two minutes remaining, giving Schumacher one flying lap to get himself through to Q3. Unfortunately for the German, the lap was not fast enough. However, as Schumacher goes on to explain, the messy lap was at least partly due to a problem with his rear wing.
“What a shame for me today as we have clearly demonstrated this weekend that as a team we have improved a lot,” he commented. “Nico proved that strongly with his fourth place which was our realistic target. I didn't quite get my lap together in Q2 and since then we have found out that my rear wing was not functioning correctly as I was braking into turn 14. I am obviously hoping to have a strong start and that we have good race pace tomorrow so I can hopefully make up some positions.”
Team principal Ross Brawn congratulated Rosberg for his qualifying performance, and also said that Schumacher was unlucky not to be joining his team-mate in the top ten:
“The car has been much better this weekend and both drivers were in a good position going into qualifying today,” said Brawn. “It's a shame for Michael this afternoon as it didn't quite work out with the red flag and then his rear wing malfunctioned at the end of his crucial lap costing valuable time.
“Nico did a fantastic job this afternoon, firstly to get into Q3 in tricky circumstances, and then putting in a great lap on tyres which had already seen some usage just before the red flag. I'm pleased that we have stabilised the situation and made some encouraging progress this weekend. There is still a long way to go but it's a start.”