The Saturday of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend was a day to forget for Michael Schumacher as the eight times world champion and man of the weekend crashed on his out lap due to a right rear wheel detachment, the cause of which is still unknown. Despite this teammate Nico Rosberg qualifies fifth.
Nico Rosberg commends the team and the car for the hard work and effort put in.”It was a typical Spa day today, and a difficult situation out there with the conditions changing all the time. Wet, intermediates and dry tyres we had everything today but we made the most out of it. Two cars from the top three teams are starting behind me which is nice to see. The team really got it right with the strategy, and everything that we did worked out well today. I’m confident for a good result tomorrow as we set the car up with the race conditions in mind, and the car has also been working well in all conditions.”
A clearly disappointed Schumacher explains the day in a humorous manner that the paddock has begun to get used too. “Well, obviously I would have wished for a different end to today’s qualifying, but it is difficult to drive on three wheels – even if I should have the experience to do so in Spa. Seriously, this is certainly something that should not occur, but then this is also Formula One; we are working at the highest level but still things can happen. At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened, as I just felt myself lose the back end suddenly which is why I instantly apologised to the team. But then I saw the wheel off the car and understood the reason why I had lost control. Trying to find the good in the bad, I’d probably say that I still have some fresh sets of tyres left, and that there is only one direction to go tomorrow: forward.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn was pleased with Rosberg and disappointed for Schumacher planning to find out the reason as soon as they can. They are another team hoping for dry and good results. “Nico had a very good qualifying session this afternoon,” he said. “He drove intelligently, pushed when he had to, and the guys on the pit wall called the weather just right. I was really pleased with how things went for him today. Naturally, I am on the other hand disappointed for Michael, because the conditions would have suited him perfectly. We need to look at exactly what happened, but it would appear there was something amiss with the right rear wheel attachment, and we need to go through it carefully tonight to ensure there can be no repeat. Both cars were running a dry set-up, so we did not compromise anything for today’s conditions and we are hoping it will stay dry for tomorrow. Time will tell if that is the right call.”
President of Mercedes Norbert Haug was pleased for Rosberg and apologises greatly to Schumacher. “Nico and the team delivered a good performance this afternoon. Thanks to the right timing and an excellent lap, we got the most out of the conditions with his fifth place – and Nico also qualified ahead of two of the current Championship contenders. It was a real shame for Michael that he lost his right rear wheel on the very first lap out of the pits. Our apologies go to him, and we need to investigate exactly what happened. Along with all the spectators, we and Michael are looking forward tomorrow to what we hope will be an attacking drive from the back of the grid in his anniversary race. Spa always has something special in store for Michael – just as Michael does for Spa.”