Nico Rosberg was an early drop-out from qualifying in Suzuka after a hydraulics problem on his Mercedes and will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix on the back row of the grid.
Team-mate Michael Schumacher qualified seventh, despite not setting a time in Q3. He was held up on his out-lap and did not cross the line to start his flying lap before the checkered flag came out to signify the end of the session.
“It was a tricky ending to my qualifying session today, but at least we have saved a set of tyres for the race tomorrow,” said the seven-time world champion. “We are still in a good position for gathering some important points, and obviously that is what I am geared to do. I am very happy with how we worked as a team to improve our performance this weekend, and I am really looking forward to having a good race at this great track which is one of my favourites.”
On the plus side for Rosberg, he does have three brand new sets of tyres available to him for the race tomorrow.
“On my first lap out in Q1, the team advised that I had a problem and asked me to come back into the pits,” he explained. “We tried to fix it in time for me to complete a lap, however the hydraulic systems are quite complicated and there just wasn’t enough time. So for the race, I have a promising strategy with all the new tyres that I have! But seriously, I will push and try to get into the top ten. That will be my aim tomorrow.”
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn thinks that Rosberg could still have a decent race tomorrow and is looking forward to see where both drivers can finish.
“It was a mixed qualifying session for us today,” said Brawn. “We had a hydraulic problem with Nico’s car right at the start of Q1 which we now need to investigate and establish what the cause was. It’s going to be quite a challenge for him starting from the back of the grid but it will be an interesting race with the tyre situation so there should be opportunities. Michael had a good session although the end of Q3 wasn’t as clean as we would have liked. It should be a good race and I look forward to seeing what both Michael and Nico can do.”