Mercedes endured a disappointing qualifying session at the Hungaroring as the team failed to make it through to Q3 for the first time this season.
Nico Rosberg was the quickest of the two drivers in qualifying but will start down in 13th place, just a week after he also struggled in qualifying at Hockenheim – even before his grid penalty in Germany was taken into account.
Rosberg admitted that he had focused on race set-up rather than chasing a quick time in the session, but said it was disappointing that he hadn't been able to make it through to Q3.
“That was a difficult qualifying for us today, and we need to analyse why it turned out like that,” he said. “Qualifying is always a compromise and I was focused on finding a good race set-up for tomorrow as we may have more tyre degradation on our car than others, but it is still disappointing not to make Q3 by two-tenths.”
Michael Schumacher fared even worse as he could only manage the 17th quickest time, having been forced to back off when Pastor Maldonado ran wide and caused a cloud of dust to drift across the circuit.
The seven-time champion did however concede that he was unlikely to have made much of an improvement.
“It was quite a tough and difficult day for us,” he said. “We have to clearly see that we did not have the pace to be in the front. I could have done a faster lap probably, without the dust having been brought to the track by Maldonado, but then I still do not think it would have brought me into Q3. I don't think we could have done much more.
“This morning we practised for long runs as yesterday we could not do that due to the rain but I don't think it compromised our performance. You have to accept the gap is quite big. We know the combination of track layout and temperature does not suit us too much, and we will try to make the best out of it tomorrow.”