Mercedes are in danger of losing fifth place in the constructor’s championship to Sauber after a terrible day at Spa-Francorchamps. The problems began in morning practice when Nico Rosberg ground to a halt on his fifth lap of the session. The issue proved to be gearbox-related and the German was handed a five place grid penalty which was the least of his problems when he was knocked out in Q1. Rosberg will subsequently start from 23rd on the grid and isn’t talking up his chances of a race day charge too much.
“This weekend isn’t really running to plan so far. Starting from the back of the grid tomorrow is really disappointing, although I had no chance to prepare my car due to the gearbox problem this morning. So it took a bit of a time to find the right set-up in qualifying and it didn’t work out well at the end. I hope I can gain some positions in the race but I’m not overly optimistic as our car is not one of the quickest on this track. I will definitely push hard.”
Teammate Michael Schumacher avoided embarrassment in the first knockout session but didn’t get much further, ending up in thirteenth. The six-time Spa winner admitted there was no more speed in the car and is braced for a difficult race tomorrow.
“Well, what a pity today. I am really sorry for my fans but I am afraid I have to say that I got pretty much everything that we could from today. The car was not quick enough, and especially in the mid-sector we were too slow. We now have to take it as it is and try to do the best we can in the race tomorrow. We will have further steps coming soon, so we will go on fighting.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn gave an honest assessment of the overall display and pinpointed the tyres as their major issue to solve.
“It’s been a disappointing day all round for us. Qualifying was tough, and it proved pretty tricky to get the tyres in the right operating window. In fairness to Nico, he didn’t have much of a chance as he missed most of P3 this morning, the only opportunity to have had some time on a dry track. Michael had a reasonable run and that was about the best we could have achieved with the car that we have at the moment. Clearly it’s not good enough and we will continue working very hard to make improvements.”