Nico Rosberg has admitted that he has to take some degree of satisfaction from his place on row two of the grid for Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, despite not having had the car he wanted underneath him in qualifying.
The German had been Red Bull's closest challenger in final practice, and would have hoped for a possible front row slot had he maintained that performance before Mark Webber's ten-place penalty been taken into account, but was unable to get the best out of his W04 when it mattered, and slipped behind not only Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, but also Lotus' Romain Grosjean, relying on Webber's punishment to promote him to fourth overall.
“I haven't found the right car balance all weekend and that's the reason why I'm a bit disappointed with today's result, even if my actual starting position of fourth place is pretty good,” Rosberg, who has three pole positions in 2013, admitted.
Despite his frustration, and the belief that Mercedes was, at best, the second strongest force in the race, Rosberg - who also had a puncture that prompted him to switch onto Pirellis supersofts in Q1 - remains optimistic that a top three finish will be possible on race day.
“The first sector of the track is good for overtaking, so hopefully that will give us some opportunities in the opening laps, even if Red Bull still seems to have the edge here overall,” he reasoned, “If I get a good start, like I managed in Singapore, then a podium finish is possible based on the performance we were able to show in the long runs on Friday.”
With Hamilton again joining polesitter Sebastian Vettel on the front row, team principal Ross Brawn admitted that it had been 'a workmanlike performance'.
“We can be happy to have both cars starting on the front two rows tomorrow, which is a fair reflection of our basic competitiveness at this circuit,” he conceded, “Lewis was happy with the balance in qualifying and got pretty much everything out of the car today, but Nico wasn't quite as comfortable, which was reflected in his ultimate lap time.
“Our high-fuel performance in Friday practice looked pretty strong and I am sure we can have a reasonable race on that basis. The weather forecast is currently predicting showers in the morning and cooler temperatures, but dry conditions, for the afternoon. We will see how that turns out and take any opportunity that comes our way.”