Nico Rosberg has admitted that sixth position on the starting grid for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix is 'not where he wanted to be', as the Williams star found his efforts hampered by both traffic and balance issues on a day when his team got both cars into the top ten for the first time in 2009.
After pacing Thursday practice around the narrow, tortuous streets of the Principality – where he has an excellent qualifying record, having lined up respectively eighth, fifth and sixth in his three previous Formula 1 appearances there – Rosberg went on to set the fastest time of all in Q1 and looked odds-on to repeat the feat in the low-fuel Q2 before eventually settling for fifth.
Hopes were high of a slot on the front two rows of the grid in the all-important Q3 top ten shoot-out, but – despite running relatively light in comparison to his immediate rivals [see separate story – click here
] – the young German would end up frustrated, less than two tenths shy of the second row and barely two hundredths adrift of fifth-placed Felipe Massa in the Ferrari alongside him.
“The first two sessions went fine,” reported the 23-year-old, “but I was not happy with the final conclusion in Q3. P6 was not where I wanted to be and it should have been better. I had some balance problems on the last run and some traffic, particularly with [Rubens] Barrichello on my fastest lap, so I didn't manage to make the best of the circumstances.
“Anyway, that's the way it has played out and we just need to make the best of it. There is still the opportunity to have a good race from a reasonable starting position, so I am still of the view that anything is possible.”
Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima, meanwhile, was rather happier with his own starting position of tenth – equalling the best of his fledgling career in the top flight to-date – though a lap time almost two seconds slower than that of the sister Williams in Q3 hints at the Japanese ace having elected to go for the long game on race day.
“It was a good session for me,” the 24-year-old remarked. “It is of course the first time I have made it into Q3 this season, so I want to say thanks to the team for preparing a good car. I am pleased that I achieved a top ten slot, as obviously grid position is crucial here and this is not a very easy track. I am confident I can have a good race, and our start position will certainly give me the chance to improve on our recent results.”
Indeed, Nakajima has yet to open his scoring account in 2009, and Rosberg has notched up a mere 4.5 points – far less than his raw pace has suggested he deserves. The former multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit's technical director Sam Michael acknowledges the increasing need for solid results.
“The car performance was strong,” reflected the softly-spoken Australian, “but unfortunately we didn't get the best out of Q3 with Nico. Kazuki had no more 'option' tyres to use in the final session, hence his P10 position and different strategy. It is good to have both cars in Q3, and we look forward to racing for points.”