Nico Rosberg's lowly seventh place in last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix was the product of the young German failing to fulfil his potential in qualifying around the narrow, tortuous streets of the Principality the previous day, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug has contended.
Having shown well during the initial phases of qualifying and having indeed paced Q2 despite conducting only one run, Rosberg subsequently underperformed in the all-important Q3 top ten shoot-out in Monte Carlo – with he and Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate and compatriot Michael Schumacher at one stage even inadvertently and embarrassingly getting in each other's way – and lined up sixth when Haug reckons he could have been on one of the front two rows of the grid.
From there, a tardy getaway for the 24-year-old cost him track position to Williams rival Rubens Barrichello at the start, and whilst he would subsequently run at a similar pace to race-winner Mark Webber when he finally found some clear air before his late pit-stop, the damage, Haug concedes, had already been down 24 hours earlier.
“The problem is certainly that we did not extract what was possible in qualifying,” the German told SPEED.com
. “When Nico was in fresh air, you could see he had good speed. Normally, the key to being good in Monaco is how long you can run with the 'Option' tyres, and he did a very long stint with very good times until he hit traffic again.
“In hindsight, if he had started second or third, which was possible... If you are first in Q2 and the others tried two times and he had one outing, the speed in my view was there. It's just an assumption, but he had the speed for row one or row two, basically. If you then have a good start and you follow this train, and the other guys need to pit before you, for example, then you have a very good chance. This is what we did not use.
“On the contrary, we got stuck behind Barrichello, because he overtook us from the start, which was a good job from him. We suffered from the lack of speed he produced, so the gap was too big, and that was it at the end of the day.”
The six points Rosberg achieved for P7 saw the inaugural GP2 Series Champion slip down to eighth in the drivers' title standings – when not all that long ago he had sat second – but Haug nonetheless put a positive spin on an ultimately disappointing and frustrating weekend for the reigning double F1 World Champions.
“From the package, and I think that's the encouraging thing, it looked completely different to Barcelona,” the 57-year-old reasoned. “Monaco was a good opportunity for us; unfortunately, we did not make the best out of it, but what counts now are the next races, and can we translate [that form] to Turkey and other tracks?”