Michael Schumacher missed out on a final flying lap during Q3 today in Montreal after being told by his Mercedes team that he had not crossed the line before the chequered flag had fallen to signify the end of the qualifying session.
The German, who had been relying on this flying lap to give him a decent grid position, will start tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix from only ninth on the grid.
“Well, this certainly was not how we had planned our qualifying to be today,” said Schumacher, clearly unhappy. “Our calculation for Q3 was to go for two laps and attack on the second one after we had seen at the beginning of Q3 that one lap did not work properly. I don’t really know how we managed not to make it over the line early enough to start the second lap but, when I passed the line, the team told me it was too late.
“We could not have achieved pole today as we could not do the times the guys up front were doing, but I could most likely have been able to do the time I was doing earlier in qualifying and start the race from a bit a better position. I now have to take it how it is and make the attack in the race tomorrow that I could not do today.”
Team-mate Nico Rosberg gave a good indication of what Schumacher could have done today, qualifying fifth.
“Today’s qualifying session went pretty well and P5 is a good starting position to gain a strong result here in Montreal,” he said. “I can still hope for a podium finish tomorrow as we have worked very hard on our race pace over the weekend. That’s why I feel quite positive because the race will depend on good tyre management as the key factor.”
Team principal Ross Brawn accepted that the team had made a mistake, but is still optimistic that both drivers can pick up a good result tomorrow.
“As we are getting used to this year, it was an extremely close session and warming up the tyres in the right way was a critical factor,” said Brawn.
“In the final part of qualifying, both drivers had two sets of options available and completed a single timed lap on their first run. They felt that the tyres were not quite up to temperature, so Nico opted to do a second one-lap run with a more aggressive out-lap, while Michael chose to do two timed laps, with a slower lap followed by a quicker one. This worked well for Nico, who set his fastest time of the session, but we mismanaged Michael’s run and lost too much time while looking for a gap in the traffic. He therefore crossed the line 0.04s after the chequered flag came out, and was unable to complete his final lap – although he had set his best first sector time before he backed off.
“This was certainly not a session where we achieved our full potential, but Nico did a strong job to recover from the running time he lost this morning, and we know that, even from fifth and ninth positions, we will still have plenty of opportunities to make progress through the field tomorrow.”