Nico Rosberg was left to rue a missed opportunity at a better grid position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix during the penultimate qualifying session of the F1 2011 season.
The Mercedes driver managed the seventh quickest time around the Yas Marina circuit, but a change in track conditions, combined with out lap traffic on his final run, meant he struggled to extract maximum performance from the car in the final stage of qualifying.
"We didn't quite get the maximum from our qualifying session today which was a shame. The track temperatures dropped during the session and it became more difficult to get the tyres working.
“On my second run in Q3, I had too much traffic in front of me to warm the tyres up sufficiently and that hurt me on the quick lap, otherwise I think we could have been further ahead,” said Rosberg of the difficulties in juggling the demands placed on drivers' during the late dash for grid positions.
However the young German wasn't too disappointed with his performance, and was still optimistic about his prospects starting from the clean side of the grid.
“However I'm on the good side of the grid and it should be a fun race tomorrow," he concluded, and despite his difficulties with tyres in qualifying, there is no reason why the reduced track temperature will affect Mercedes adversely during the race according to Rosberg's team mate, Michael Schumacher.
“The fact that the track temperatures will drop during the race might be good for us as we struggle a bit with the tyre temperatures here,” stated Schumacher, clearly expecting lower temperatures to put opposition drivers in a similar position to them.
This is not the only cause for optimism in the Mercedes camp. Both drivers have one set of new options available and two sets of new primes, plenty of tyres to get them through a race where tyre durability is expected to be at a minimum.
by Philip Barclay