Michael Schumacher has blamed a problem with the adjustable rear wing for his failure to make it through to the top-ten shoot-out today in qualifying for Sunday's F1 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Schumacher, who had only been tenth in final practice this morning, found himself demoted to P11 right at the end of Q2, when, somewhat ironically, his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg improved and set the sixth quickest time. That left Schumacher on the wrong side of the cut-off - his best lap, a 1 minute 37.035 second - 0.224s too slow.
“We had some issues with the rear wing activation today and unfortunately that's what compromised my last run in Q2,” Schumacher explained. “The car became difficult to drive, which is a real shame as it had been working very well during the earlier runs.
“The performance was much better with the wing, so of course we had to use it, and I would still say that we have made a step forward thanks to the hard work from our guys. We now have to concentrate on tomorrow's race which we go into with the firm belief that anything can be possible.”
Nico Rosberg meanwhile had similar issues in Q3 and that was why his best time in the shoot-out, a 1m 36.809s, was 0.421 seconds slower than his quickest lap in Q2.
“The team have made some good progress here and I had a decent balance up to Q2 today. Unfortunately I lost that feeling in Q3, which combined with the rear wing issue, meant we weren't able to get the performance out of the car which is frustrating,” Rosberg continued.
“The car is better than we have been able to show so far this season but we don't know exactly why we are not getting more performance at the moment. We need to look into today's issues now and have a good think to see what can help us improve in the race tomorrow.”
Mercedes team principal, Ross Brawn was not happy: “We had a difficult qualifying session today. We're still struggling with the consistency of the car and are not giving Nico and Michael the best chance to show what they could achieve. There are times when the car is working well and the pace is evident, however there are too many occasions where things are not functioning properly,” Brawn added. “We're quite clearly not where we want to be but will continue to work hard to achieve a more competitive position.
“It will be a challenging race tomorrow, unless the weather or other events play a part in creating opportunities."