Mercedes had a frustrating time during qualifying for the European Grand Prix today in Valencia as, although the car clearly had good pace around the Spanish street circuit, the session ended with Nico Rosberg in sixth place, and Michael Schumacherdown in twelfth.
Rosberg was second fastest in Q2, and held provisional pole position momentarily in Q3, so knows he should have got a better result this afternoon.
“We had a lot of potential going into qualifying, but unfortunately I can’t be happy with the outcome today,” he said. “We were quick throughout but when I was just about to start my final lap, Lewis was slowing down in the last corner. I had to start my quick lap behind him which made it impossible to improve my time.
“We know it’s tricky in the last sector here and there is an agreement in place to stop things like this happening so it’s frustrating. It will be an interesting race tomorrow from a strategy perspective, and I hope there will be the opportunity to make up some places.”
Schumacher accepted that the failure to reach Q3 was a mistake on his part, but can still draw positives despite the lowly grid position.
“What a close qualifying session,” noted the seven-times world champion. “Of course, I’m not particularly happy about not making it through Q2 but that was clearly down to me – I didn’t get my lap together.
“On my first run, I was too aggressive in turn 12 on my first timed lap, then had to abort the second lap and pit because the tyres were no longer in good enough condition to improve. After that, I was a bit too conservative on the second run and that cost us, because the times were so close today.
“On the other hand, my starting position opens up strategic possibilities for tomorrow. I have new sets of tyres available which is the positive aspect of my situation. We will certainly make the most of them.”
Mercedes team prinicpal Ross Brawn explained why his drivers got the results they did today in Valencia, and predicts that tyres, once again, will be the key factor in the race tomorrow.
“We had better potential than we showed this afternoon, and I am sure a lot of teams will feel they are in a similar position,” said Brawn. “Michael didn’t put all of his best sectors together on his final lap in Q2, and the times were so close that this meant he missed out by less than 0.07s.
“Nico had a smooth session, was consistently among the top three and looking good going into Q3. He was quickest on his first run, and had a brand new set of tyres available for his final effort, as the circuit was also picking up pace. However, he found himself sandwiched between Hamilton in front and Maldonado behind, badly compromising his lap, which he eventually aborted.
“It will be a long race tomorrow with the tyres, and how we manage them, being absolutely vital.”