Michael Schumacher was unable to explain why he was so much slower than his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg today in qualifying for Sunday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
Schumacher finished up twelfth on the timesheets, but looks set to start eleventh at the all-new Buddh International Circuit as Lotus Renault's Vitaly Petrov will drop five-places after colliding with the German in Korea.
Schumacher's real concern though was his pace relative to Rosberg and alarmingly he was almost eight tenths slower in Q2, his best lap a 1 minute 26.337 seconds, where as Rosberg did a 1m 25.555s.
“Qualifying today was not really very good for us. At first I hit some traffic, and then on my final run in Q2, there was again vibrations on the set of tyres which I used which was not helpful,” Schumacher explained.
“Saying that, this certainly does not explain the time gap to Nico so we need to understand what the reason was for that and get on top of it. As for the race tomorrow, this should work out better for me, and my aim undoubtedly is to score some points. I'm not really sure which side of the grid will be the better one, so I will just take it from there and try to gain as much as possible.”
Rosberg in contrast easily made it through to the top-ten shoot-out in the sister car and will line-up seventh, 'best of the rest' behind the Red Bulls, McLarens and Ferraris. His quickest lap in Q3 was a 1m 25.451s, although he had to slow on his final run after Felipe Massa crashed out.
“I'm pleased that we made a step forward today but we could perhaps have finished higher,” Rosberg said. “In Q1, I hit a kerb quite heavily and damaged the floor which lost some of the car's downforce for the rest of qualifying. I was on my quickest lap at the end of Q3 but unfortunately I had to slow down for the yellow flag after Felipe's incident so that cost me some time.
“I will push hard to gain places tomorrow and have a good race on this fantastic track. I'm guessing it will be an exciting race and the Indian people should be proud to have one of the best tracks in the world of motorsport now!”
“It was an exciting and tense qualifying session today,” summarised team principal, Ross Brawn. “We got caught out a little in traffic on occasions which didn't help as it was particularly close out there. It's a shame that we didn't get through to Q3 with Michael, and he was unhappy with his final set of tyres.
“Nico did a great job, especially considering that he was struggling a little with the car yesterday, so all credit to him and his team for getting the car in good shape for qualifying. Our runs on high fuel have been encouraging so we are looking forward to the race.”