Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn described qualifying in Bahrain this weekend as "a session of mixed fortunes", which was about the most positive spin possible in the circumstances.

Having looked set to challenge for pole position, the team had to stand and watch as Michael Schumacher was eliminated at the end of the first 20 minute session, and then had to take a longer-term strategic view of Nico Rosberg's campaign in Q3 and settle for fifth place on the grid.

"I am obviously very disappointed," said Schumacher after failing to get through into Q2. Initially it looked as though a scruffy lap combined with a certain complacency in not wanting to go out and burn through another set of tyres was to blame, but Schumacher was quick to explain that this was not the cae.

"Unfortunately on my fast lap, which was looking quite good, my DRS broke in the last sector," he said. "We tried to fix it in the garage but were not able to go out again. Trying for a lap without DRS on different tyres would not have made sense."

Ross Brawn confirmed Schumacher's situation. "He experienced a failure of the DRS rear wing flap, just before he entered the back straight on what would have been his quickest lap," he said.

"This cost him around half a second, and with little more than a second separating the top 17 cars in Q1, that proved decisive. Unfortunately, we were unable to repair the system in time for him to run again, and he was bumped down to P18 at the very last moment."

"I feel sorry for Michael, who had the pace for a good starting position," said Mercedes Benz' Norbert Haug. "A problem with the rear wing mechanism prevented him from getting a good result - but he can achieve this tomorrow. Michael showed good pace during our long runs and he will be well equipped with fresh tyres."

That left Shanghai race winner Nico Rosberg as the team's sole representative into Q2 and ultimately Q3, but he had to settle for fifth place as the team concentrated on set-up, tyre and race strategy best suited to tomorrow's Grand Prix rather than topping qualifying.

"As we have been focusing on our race pace, there is always a compromise in the qualifying set-up," he explained. "I think that I'm in a good position for the race for tomorrow."

"We made the strategic decision for Nico to do just one lap [in Q3] and, although his starting position is not optimum, he is the only driver in the top five to have a new set of option tyres available," confirmed Brawn. "This could prove valuable in the race, and we will learn tomorrow if our strategic decision pays off."

Stressing the importance of the possible tyre advantage Rosberg now holds, Haug elaborated: "From the outset, our focus at this circuit, where tyre usage and availability of new tyres are crucial, was to be in a good position in that respect during the race on Sunday. We think this is even more important here than on the three circuits that we have already raced at this year.

"We knew that this strategy would likely compromise his position on the grid. However, knowing that we will be well-placed tomorrow on the tyre front, I am convinced that this was the right thing to do."

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