Michael Schumacher was delighted following qualifying for the F1 2012 Australian Grand Prix today and believes Mercedes have made real progress over the winter.
Schumacher eventually qualified fourth in his Mercedes F1 W03, his best lap in the third and final session a 1 minute 25.336 seconds, which left him just 0.034 seconds off Romain Grosjean's Lotus in third and only 0.262 seconds off Jenson Button's McLaren in P2.
Fourth on the grid was also Schumacher's best performance in qualifying since making his comeback in 2010.
“The first qualifying session of the year proved to be as tight a competition as we had all hoped for. I am certainly happy with our performance which is a huge step forward, considering where we were in qualifying here last year. I can only thank the guys for all of the hard work that they have achieved over the winter,” Schumacher stated.
“I also think it is important to stress that Mercedes-Benz have always believed in and supported this project, and I really hope we can deliver the results we all want. We have to take this step-by-step as the competition is very tight, so now we have to continue to work hard.”
Nico Rosberg meanwhile also went well in qualifying and headed a Mercedes 1-2 in Q2. However an error in the top-ten shoot-out at turn three left him down in seventh on the grid, 0.350 seconds off his team-mate.
“Unfortunately I didn't get the most out of it today. I didn't quite find the right set-up as we have a lot of new things on the car and it will take a few races to get it working perfectly. I also made a small mistake on my last lap which cost me some time,” he conceded.
“Seventh place is still a good position though and I will be doing my best to move forward tomorrow.”
“From where we were twelve months ago, I believe we have seen a really good step forward here in Melbourne, and we have a great foundation to build on,” summarised team boss, Ross Brawn.
“We are very pleased with Michael's fourth position today, and he did an excellent job. Nico didn't get such a clean lap at the end, however he will have a very strong race from seventh place.
“We were able to spend some time running on high fuel this morning, and I am hopeful that will pay off tomorrow."