18 April 2014
Chinese F1 Grand Prix: Rosberg confident despite not topping practice
Nico Rosberg insists that Mercedes is still the car to beat in China, despite the opening day of F1 action causing tyre concerns.
Nico Rosberg says he expects to be challenging for victory in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix despite not finishing in top spot during the opening day of practice.
The current points leader was denied another shot at P1 on Friday, first by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso then by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the Three Pointed Star found itself all but matched by its leading rivals. Although Friday practice does not necessarily represent the rest of the weekend as teams work on different programmes, Rosberg noted the presence of Ferrari and Red Bull towards the top of the times, but insisted that Mercedes still had the car to beat.
“I'm pleased with that, but there's still a lot of work to do,” he noted after finishing third fastest in the quicker afternoon session at Shanghai International Circuit, “We have a great car and expect to win the race here. To battle for the win will be a great challenge and I look forward to it. It's been a great start to the weekend and I like this track. It's a great feeling to be so fast.”
Despite setting the pace in FP2, team-mate Hamilton complained that he was not entirely happy with the feeling of his car. When the team denied that there was a problem, the spotlight fell on the general handling behaviour of the W05, but Rosberg says he expects the problem to be a common one.
“In general, it's a very unique weekend because, normally, you're trying to limit rear tyre wear and, here, it's the front tyres that destroy themselves because the corners are so long,” he explained, “You are just waiting, waiting, waiting and the front tyres are putting so much energy into it.
“Graining was very bad today, but everybody has understeer here because you destroy the front tyres - turn one is s tyre killer, so it's a matter of being creative with the set-up.”
Asked whether he and Hamilton had managed to sit down and discuss their battle at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which came close to seeing contact between the two Mercedes drivers, Rosberg confirmed that the matter was 'all behind us' – even though Hamilton denied having had talks with his team-mate....
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