Michael Schumacher is expecting that Mercedes will find themselves starting the European Grand Prix from ‘around the fourth row’, despite him setting the fourth fastest time in Friday practice today.
“We had a typical Friday practice situation, running through different set-up possibilities and variations,” explained the seven-time world champion. “As usual on Friday, our focus was more on the long runs, and all in all I am very happy because we managed to do a lot of work. In the morning session we still had some issues to sort out, and in the afternoon we just worked consistently on our car.
“All of us are aware, though, that under normal circumstances we will not yet be strong enough to fight for the podium, and will most likely find ourselves starting around the fourth row. But as we managed to complete our programme in a good way, I am still taking a positive feeling out of today’s practice.”
Nico Rosberg was over half a second off the pace of Schumacher’s best time, finishing the day in eighth. He also talked of a difficult morning session for the team, but is optimistic for a good day tomorrow.
“We had a bit of a tricky morning: it was clear that we had to change some things on the set-up but we managed to improve the car for this afternoon,” said the other Mercedes driver. “It was important to learn as much as possible today but I am still not completely happy with the balance we have at the moment.
“There are a few new things to adapt to this weekend, such as the new engine mapping regulation for example, and that makes it a little more challenging. We have work to do this evening, but I am positive that we will make a good start to the qualifying day tomorrow.”
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn also suggested that today was a decent start to the weekend for the team: “We had two pretty reasonable sessions today and certainly improved the car from the morning to the afternoon. We focused on race preparation work, along with looking at how the tyres behave here – they seem to be quite consistent on initial evaluation.
“There are some areas where we need to try and improve before Sunday, but overall I think we have a good base to work from going into the weekend.”