Nico Rosberg had admitted that he could not match the pace of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, but has not given up hope of beating the Briton to the chequered flag on Sunday.
Four-tenths of a second separated the pair at the end of Q3, with Hamilton claiming his tenth pole of 2015 and wrapping up the pole position trophy that Rosberg won last season. Frustrated that he could not carry over his practice pace advantage, however, the German insisted that there was still an opportunity or two for him to turn the tables in the race.
“For sure, I'm disappointed,” Rosberg conceded, “I could push well in qualifying, but Lewis was too quick in the end. He just found a little bit extra – or quite a bit extra – that I didn't have in my pocket.”
Rosberg, who is chasing a 21-point deficit in the championship standings, had posted the fastest time in both Friday practice sessions, but admitted to a small setback in FP3.
“I lost a bit this morning in free practice when we went the wrong way [on set-up], but then came back really nicely and had a nice balance in qualifying,” he continued, “Of course, it's disappointing [not to get pole] but, with the new start situation, where we are having to do everything ourselves now, there's a lot more opportunity tomorrow, both at the start and the run down to turn five, where it's possible to overtake. We've seen that many, many times so my hopes are still high.”
Turn five, at the end of the long Kemmel straight is, of course, where the two Mercedes infamously came together in last year's race, sparking a train of events that saw Hamilton gain the upper hand in the race for the title.
That may not have crossed Rosberg's mind, especially as he remains concerned by the tyre failure that saw his second practice session end prematurely on Friday.
“The problem is that we don't really understand it - there's theories, but no real evidence and so that's a bit worrying for sure,” he noted, “We're keeping a very close eye on it and we've taken some measures to make sure it doesn't happen again. We've done the best we can and just hope it all stays together.”