Nico Rosberg may not have cut too cheerful a figure in the post-session press conference, but insisted that he was delighted to have claimed pole position for the Russian Grand Prix.

The German emerged three-tenths faster than Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after a close-fought qualifying session was cut short by a mistake from the world champion that sent him pitward, but Rosberg insisted that what appeared to be a cruise to row one was actually tougher than it looked.

"For sure, I am very happy," he said, forcing a weak smile, "It has been a difficult weekend with the little running that we've had - we didn't get much practice, but qualifying worked out very well. Thanks to my engineers, as we had to guess a little bit where [the set-up] would be, but it all worked out very well. I felt comfortable, got some good laps in and feel very happy with that."

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The limited running has also meant less race preparation that would be ideal, but Rosberg is equally confident that Mercedes can get on top of its strategy.

"We tried to prepare as best we could, and this morning we did do some high fuel running - everybody did - so we do have an idea how it is going to be tomorrow," he explained, "It's not completely just guessing. We are quite comfortable we know what to expect and, strategy-wise, we think we've got a good strategy, so it should be fine. It looks like we were especially quick on the softs, which is always a good thing in the race of course because everybody has to use them once. That can only help us."

While pole was only his third of the season, Rosberg is well aware that he needs to make the most of his performance on race day in order to cut into Hamilton's championship lead. He failed to capitalise on pole in Japan, where Hamilton beat him to turn two and the chequered flag to extend his advantage to 48 points, and the pair will certainly remember their run to the first corner in Sochi twelve months ago.

"I haven't thought about that yet," Rosberg said of the extensive lock-up that required a pit-stop for round tyres before prompting a fightback through the field, "I'm just enjoying being on pole and I'll dig into [first corner fightplan] this evening or tomorrow morning. I will work on it, work on the start and get everything right there. I'll look at last year's start and learn from that! That's it."

As well as the individual honours, however, Rosberg and Hamilton also have a duty to their team, with Mercedes needing just three points more than Ferrari to clinch a second successive title in Sochi.

"Of course, the constructors' championship is a very important target for us this weekend," the German agreed, all the while insisting that he would not be thinking about that on the run to turns one and two, "It would be amazing to clinch it for the second time so early in the season so we are out to do that but, at the same time, I am out here to reduce the gap to Lewis."