F1 » 8 October 2011
Technical woes hit Rosberg and Liuzzi in Q1
Neither Mercedes' Nico Rosberg nor HRT's Tonio Liuzzi were able to set times in the first round of qualifying for the Japanese GP after falling foul of technical issues.
Nico Rosberg had barely left pit lane during qualifying round 1 when the team recalled him to the garage because of a hydraulics problem that meant he never got to set a representative time on the Suzuka track in Japan.
"On my first lap out in Q1, the team advised that I had a problem and asked me to come back into the pits," the German driver confirmed. "We tried to fix it in time for me to complete a lap, however the hydraulic systems are quite complicated and there just wasn't enough time."
"We had a hydraulic problem with Nico's car right at the start of Q1 which we now need to investigate and establish what the cause was," said team boss Ross Brawn. "Sorry for that, Nico."
That will leave Rosberg starting from the back row of the grid for Sunday's race, with a mountain to climb. However past races have shown that cars starting from the back still have a chance of getting back into the points thanks to this season's technical innovations including DRS; and the one problem he won't have is running out of new sets of tyres.
"So for the race, I have a promising strategy with all the new tyres that I have!" he joked, seeing the bright side. "But seriously, I will push and try to get into the top ten. That will be my aim tomorrow."
"It's going to be quite a challenge for him starting from the back of the grid but it will be an interesting race with the tyre situation so there should be opportunities," added Brawn. "Three races ago, Michael [Schumacher] started last and climbed through the field to a strong fifth place at the finish. That's positive motivation for us all - Nico first and foremost."
Rosberg's exit in Q1 was the surprise of the round, whereas HRT's Tonio Liuzzi was never expected to progress beyond Q1 and the back row will be familiar territory for him. However, in this case he too, like Rosberg, was the victim of technical gremlins that meant he was unable to put in a fast lap, which means he will line up alongside Rosberg for the start of the race on Sunday.
Both drivers needed - and received - special dispensation from the race stewards to join the grid on Sunday as neither driver put in a time within the nominal 107% limit. While Rosberg was always likely to be allowed in, the situation was rather more acute for Liuzzi who has failed to record a sufficiently fast time in any of the Suzuka sessions so far after a string of engine-related problems.
"It's been a terrible start to the weekend," said Liuzzi. "Yesterday I could only do four laps, eight this morning after an engine issue and this afternoon again problems so in the end I've hardly done any laps in two days. We'll start from last position, which isn't very positive, and it's a shame because the few laps we did weren't too bad.
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