Mercedes faces an uphill struggle in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa after a poor show from Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg was compounded by grid penalties for both drivers.
Schumacher went into the weekend knowing that he would have to take a ten-place penalty for the incident involving Rubens Barrichello in the closing stages of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the seven-time champion keen to qualify as high as possible to minimise the effects of the grid drop.
However traffic on his final run means Schumacher could only set the eleventh quickest time, which means he will start the race down in 21st place.
"What a pity as I would have liked to be in the top ten today obviously,” he said. “I believe that we could have made it but unfortunately I had traffic on my last run so I could not push more at that point.
“Knowing I have to go back ten positions on the grid anyway makes me hope for mixed weather conditions tomorrow. This would at least bring some movement into the race which could work out in favour or against us. Let's see what tomorrow afternoon will bring and what we can make out of it."
Team-mate Rosberg was handed a five-place penalty for a gearbox change prior to the start of he session but he could only manage twelfth quickest – which means he lines up down in 17th.
Like Schumacher, Rosberg was left to rue traffic in the final stages of Q2, although he admitted to a lack of grid that hadn't made things any easier.
“It's not been an ideal weekend so far and knowing that we have the five place gearbox penalty, we decided to go for more of a rain set-up as it would be our only chance in the race tomorrow,” he said. “The car was generally lacking grip today but the main problem was that I had traffic on my fastest lap in Q2 with a driver staying in front of me on his in-lap for the last half of the lap.
“We'll have to see what tomorrow brings but if it rains, then we are on the right set-up."