With development of the WO1 mothballed in favour of work on next year's challenger, Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg
and Michael Schumacher head to each grand prix weekend knowing that their chances of success of marginal, so it is rewarding for both when they achieve minor victories against their rivals.
Knowing that, even with the sort of level playing field provided by a first visit to a new circuit, the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari
should be some distance clear of the pack, beating even one of the 'big three' teams' cars is an achievement of note, and Nico Rosberg
claimed two such scalps with his qualifying performance on F1's first visit to Korea.
The young German felt that he got the best out of his car in all three phases of qualifying, but particularly in the final ten-minute shoot-out, as he cemented fifth place ahead of both Felipe Massa
and Jenson Button.
“I'm very pleased with fifth place, and it is the best possible position that we could have achieved today," he confirmed, "It's nice to be ahead of one of the McLaren
cars - and also [Renault's] Robert [Kubica], who has been very close to us recently.
"We're in a good position for the race tomorrow. Strategy will be crucial with the tyre graining, but we are strong in that area and, with a bit of luck, it would be nice to give the team a great result.”
With the chances of being overhauled by Renault
for fourth in the constructors' championship receding, there is little of note to play at Mercedes, but the Brackley squad is determined to keep on battling to the end of the season in a bid both to silence its detractors and boost morale ahead of what it hopes will be an improvement in 2011.
Veteran Michael Schumacher also made the top ten, for the third race in a row, and, despite being out-qualified by team-mate Rosberg for the 14th time in 17 races, insisted he was happy with his ninth place.
“I had a busy qualifying, getting everything together with some changes we made, but I'm quite happy with my position," the 41-year old seven-time champion claimed, "There was no room for much more today. The team did a great job getting both cars into Q3 and we will be starting from the better side of the track in my opinion."
With rain forecast for the Yeongam area on Sunday, Schumacher is also confident of bringing home some points.
"I'm quite optimistic for tomorrow, and we should score, especially as our set-up is focused on the race," he reasoned, "We had a good race pace in practice yesterday and I'm looking forward to the first Korean Grand Prix.”