Michael Schumacher is optimistic that he can challenge for a podium finish in tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying in third place. Mercedes showed impressive single lap pace once again, allowing Schumacher to get to within 0.172s of pole position, and the German paid tribute to the team for giving him the equipment to challenge the front runners.
“I am more than happy about my return to the top three today, and the fact that our guys here and back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth have enabled me to be here with the superb work they have done. It felt nice being in the qualifying press conference for the first time in over five years! What is obviously more important would be sitting here again tomorrow, and I will certainly try to do my best to achieve that. From where we were last year, I think it is quite an achievement, and I am pleased for our title partner PETRONAS at their home Grand Prix here in Malaysia. I would also be happy to give a good result back to Mercedes-Benz who have been so strongly supportive of me.”
Teammate Nico Rosberg slipped up in the final part of qualifying for the second weekend running and will have to come through from the fourth row again. Rosberg will start seventh but he expects to be competing with the cars ahead of him in the race.
“I would obviously like to be further up the grid, however unfortunately I lost some time on my quick lap after a poor first corner which cost me a few tenths and left me with a lot of tyre vibrations for the rest of the lap. However I’m quite confident that we can compete very well tomorrow as we have worked hard on our race pace over the weekend. I hope that I can move forward a few places and score some good points in front of our Malaysian supporters and our partner PETRONAS.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn is hopeful that Mercedes will succeed where they failed last weekend, and convert their promising grid positions into a good race result.
“We are obviously delighted with the performance today and congratulations to Michael in particular. It’s really pleasing to see him put in such a good performance, and I hope we can consolidate that in the race tomorrow. We didn’t have the best of luck in Q2 as the yellow flag came at the worst time for us, meaning that both drivers had to go again on a second set of options, which left us only one set for Q3. So I’m pleased with what we managed to achieve, and we are in a good position for the race tomorrow. The competition is incredibly close with only tenths separating the top eight and that was enough to push Nico further down than he should have been after he flat-spotted his front tyre at turn one. However he is still in a good position and both drivers should be able to have a strong race.”
Norbert Haug praised Schumacher for qualifying on the second row once again but acknowledges that there are plenty of cars with strong packages this weekend.
“Quite superb from Michael today, I have to say. He had only one go in Q3 as we lost a set of tyres in Q2 due to the yellow flag. Michael’s lap put him 0.023s behind Jenson in P2, and less than two-tenths behind pole-sitter Lewis. Of course, it is also nice to have three Mercedes-powered cars in the top three places for tomorrow’s race, and we hope our team will be able to fight for a top five result. We will certainly not get carried away assuming that we are already a challenge for McLaren Mercedes and Red Bull, and we do not underestimate Lotus who are doing a great job, and as always we never underestimate Ferrari. As long as we are developing ourselves in the right direction, we are working according to plan. Nico flat-spotted his tyre in turn one and ended up in P8, but we know how fast he can go from P3 this morning, and he will start in seventh place due to Kimi’s grid penalty.”
“Well done to Michael and everybody in the team here, and in Brackley and Brixworth, and it would be nice to get a similar result tomorrow. Last but not least we are very pleased for our title partner PETRONAS to start from the second row in their home race.”