Nico Rosberg confessed that he extracted 'the maximum' performance possible out of his Mercedes GP MGP W02 during qualifying for this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix to claim seventh place on the starting grid – as team-mate Michael Schumacher conversely adopted a 'tactical' approach.
In characteristically hot and humid conditions around the Marina Bay street circuit, the two Mercedes drivers progressed safely through Q1 and Q2 whilst needing just a single run on each occasion, before Rosberg went on to push Felipe Massa in Q3 – ultimately coming up just over two tenths of a second shy – and Schumacher aborted his sole 'flying' effort in favour of preserving his tyres for the race. That means both men will have two sets of new softs and one set of new super-softs available for the grand prix itself.
“I had a good, fast lap in Q3 and we were able to take the most out of the car so I'm quite satisfied,” affirmed Rosberg. “Starting in seventh place was the maximum that we could have achieved, although Massa was very close so it was definitely worth trying to catch him. Being on the clean side at the grid gives me a good position for the start, so I will try to make up positions there and score some good points. I think it will be an exciting race here with all the new things like DRS and the Pirelli tyres.”
“It was quite a tactical qualifying session, in which we chose not to run in Q3 to save new tyres for the race,” explained 'Schumi', who will take the start from eighth after both Force Indias similarly sat out the top ten shoot-out. “In theory, this should be worth some time over the race distance, so it was a calculated risk worth taking.
“As we all know from the past, a lot of incidents can happen during the Singapore Grand Prix, so I will certainly go for any opportunity which might occur. I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for Sebastian [Vettel] to clinch his second world title here.”
The Brackley-based outfit's team principal Ross Brawn and Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug shared that sense of quiet optimism ahead of race day as the team bids to establish further clear air between itself and pursuer Lotus Renault GP in the battle over fourth spot in the F1 2011 constructors' standings.
“It was a fairly straightforward qualifying session for us,” acknowledged Brawn, “and we got the maximum performance from the car. We were mindful of the need for good tyres in the race, and with both drivers saving a set of super-softs, we are in reasonable shape. Michael decided not to set a lap time in Q3 for this reason; he could have challenged Nico, but it was more sensible to save the tyres.
“We have moved forward with the car, and the changes that we have made for this weekend look to be working well. We look forward to an interesting and challenging race, and there should be a lot of opportunities.”
“Our team have worked very hard and constructively since [Friday], when we struggled on this challenging high-downforce track, and Nico and Michael achieved the best possible result with our current package,” concurred Haug. “We took a disciplined approach throughout qualifying in order to save tyres for the race, and both Nico and Michael will have a fresh set of 'Options' available which should be valuable.
“We only used 'Prime' tyres in Q1 and, unlike the cars ahead, attempted only one outing in Q3. Our target is to improve our positions from [qualifying] and to continue our trend from Spa and Monza.”