Mercedes' Nico Rosberg broke into the top six in Brazil during qualifying for the final race of the F1 2011 season.
Catching one of the cars from 'the big three' of Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren was Rosberg's stated aim in the build up to the event at Interlagos, and it's so far so good this weekend after he pipped Ferrari's Felipe Massa to sixth.
“That was a good qualifying session today. We saved a set of option tyres for the race, and we qualified ahead of one of the Ferraris, which has always been my goal during the season. So I'm quite pleased to be starting from sixth place tomorrow,” Rosberg confirmed.
After being second fastest in qualifying two, however, the young German may be left pondering what could have been.
“I was maybe a little too slow on my out lap in Q3 so my tyres didn't work perfectly on my fast lap, and that's why I wasn't as quick as in Q2.” he explained.
He was not downbeat, however, and sees plenty of potential for a strong race: “I will push to gain a good result tomorrow for the team who have done a great job over the whole season,” he added.
Rosberg did well to save an extra set of options for the race, although team-mate Michael Schumacher believes that may well prove academic.
"The forecast says there is a high probability for rain during the race. With this in mind, we have kept all of our options open for tomorrow and we had a strategic approach to qualifying today,” Schumacher said.
A topsy-turvy race could be ideal for the veteran to score the first podium since his return too, especially as he will start tenth due to a decision not to set a time in Q3.
All was not well on Schumacher's side of the garage during qualifying as he struggled to match his practice pace. He remains confident though that he can have a strong race whatever the weather.
“We need to find out why we weren't able to match our times from this morning. There will be a lot of data checking now, so that tomorrow it will be very different and we can attack for some points,” he concluded.
by Philip Barclay