Nico Rosberg has won the battle against the conditions after taking pole position in a shortened qualifying session for the United States Grand Prix and says he's impressed with how well his Mercedes handles in the pouring rain.
The German notched up his 19th career Formula 1 pole in tricky conditions after qualifying was postponed until Sunday morning due to the torrential downpours and was handed P1 after the final session was cancelled as the weather took a turn for the worse.
Despite the difficult weather conditions, with almost every driver slipping off the circuit at some point during qualifying, Rosberg has praised the handling of the Mercedes W06 to claim back-to-back pole positions at the Circuit of the Americas.
“It has been a really good qualifying and I was quite impressed with the car but it was very difficult with the car aquaplaning,” Rosberg said. “When it happens you really struggle to have control over the car and it can just snap suddenly without warning.
“So it was quite challenging out there but I was able to get a good lap together with a used set of tyres which was even better because for Q3 I had a new set to go.”
Rosberg also says he was able to manage the Mercedes as grip levels changed on a lap-by-lap basis but was able to find the limit without taking too much of a risk.
“You have to adapt all the time as the track is changing and the lines on the track are changing because of the water on the track, so you have to adapt every lap to find the new limit,” he said. “It became quite difficult when it starts to rain more again like it did towards the end. It was tough because you are always trying to improve your time which is not easy when the track is getting worse.”
The German driver set his provisional pole time on used wet tyres with the foresight of saving his last fresh wets for Q3 but due to the conditions never occurred because he ruined his first wet set in a crash during FP3. Each driver is allocated three sets of wet tyres per race weekend, meaning Rosberg has one fresh set remaining along with the scrubbed ones used in qualifying.
"It was because of the spin I had yesterday created a small flatspot and compromised my qualifying a little bit and I had to run used in Q2, so that I had a fresh set for Q3.
Rosberg will be joined on the front row by his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and knows he must not let the Brit outscore him by two points, along with Hamilton outscoring Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by nine points, to prevent him from claiming a third F1 world title.