Michael Schumacher was once again left to sit out Q3 on the sidelines while his compatriot and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg went on to clinch eighth place on the grid of the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.

It's the sixth time this season that the multiple former world champion will have failed to start a race in the top ten, in what has proved to be his 'farewell tour' before retirement at the end of the season.

"My qualifying did not exactly go according to plan today," said Schumacher finishing in 14th place on the grid. "We changed our approach a little for the last run in Q2, and then I did not properly make use of it in the first sector and particular in turn one.

"So we are not quite where we would want to have qualified but I will certainly try to make the best out of my starting position tomorrow," he added.

Team principal Ross Brawn added: "It was a little frustrating for Michael as a small mistake on his quick lap in Q2 prevented him from finishing higher up the field.

"But overall, a more positive day for where we are with the car," continued Brawn, pointing to Rosberg's competitive showing which put him onto the fourth row of the grid for the start of Sunday's race at Yas Marina. "We squeezed as much performance out of the car as possible today, and eighth place is a small improvement on recent performances."

Certainly Rosberg was upbeat with his showing in qualifying in the Saturday twilight.

"Qualifying worked out well for us today as P8 was our target and we were able to achieve that position," he said. "I'm ahead of a Ferrari and a Lotus so that's a good step, and we have made some improvements with our set-up work this weekend.

"Thanks to my mechanics today who did a great job to fix an issue with the brakes just before qualifying and make sure that the car was ready in time," he added. "It won't be an easy task for us to move up the field tomorrow but I'm looking forward to the race and to seeing what we can achieve."

"He had only one opportunity and his lap time is about six-tenths closer to championship leader Vettel than at the last couple of races," pointed out Norbert Haug, the director of motorsports at Mercedes. "0.021 seconds separate Nico from seventh placed championship contender Alonso."

Even so, Rosberg won't be kidding himself into thinking that he can realistically bridge the gap to his future Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton - unless something extraordinary happens under the setting desert sun on Sunday afternoon.