Nico Rosberg has admitted he is 'surprised' to have qualified on the second row of the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Although he was right on the pace on Friday in practice and was second in both sessions, he dropped down the order in FP3 this morning. However in the end he managed to get the better of both McLaren's in Q3 and was also only 0.010 seconds behind Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in third.
"Fourth place is quite a nice surprise and I'm very pleased that we seem to have made a step forward this weekend," reflected the Mercedes GP man, who incidentally once again beat his illustrious team-mate, Michael Schumacher (who had to settle for P9). "We really got the most out of the car in qualifying and I've worked well with my engineer Jock [Clear] and the team to improve the car and get the set-up right this weekend.
"We didn't think we would be this far up the grid today as we were struggling in practice this morning compared to the McLarens but to be level with the quickest Ferrari and a bit closer to the Red Bulls is very satisfying. It's a good step for us and we're well placed to have a good race tomorrow."
Mercedes GP team principal, Ross Brawn and Norbert Haug meanwhile were both again impressed with Rosberg's form.
"Well done to Nico," Brawn said. "Fourth position is certainly ahead of where we expected to be this weekend and Nico drove very well in all three qualifying sessions to put himself in contention for a strong race tomorrow."
"A great job from Nico and the team on a very demanding track," Haug added. "Nico's lap puts him in fourth place and less than one and a half tenths from the front row and closer to the pole time than in the previous races. Hopefully we can repeat a similar performance tomorrow. We were the third fastest team today, ten thousandths of a second down to the second fastest, so a good job from everybody."