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Mercedes team tactics force Rosberg to sit out Q3
27 October 2012
Nico Rosberg succeeded in making it through to Q3 in qualifying for the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of India at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, but then still had to sit out virtually the entire final part of the session in the pits.
It wasn't a technical problem that kept him in the garage in Q3 bar a brief installation lap, but a Mercedes team strategic decision to miss out on the final part of qualifying rather than attempt a flying lap.
"In terms of our strategy for the race, it was better for us not to run in Q3 as it should give us a better pace tomorrow with fresh tyres," explained Rosberg. "I'll be able to tell you tomorrow if it was the right decision."
"That was a qualifying session in which we had to balance the temptation to run to our ultimate pace and the realistic consideration of what the race will bring," added Mercedes principal Ross Brawn about the team's tactics.
"After Q2, it was clear that seventh place was the maximum we could achieve with Nico, and his pace had been strongest on used tyres," he continued. "However, we preferred not to go into the race on a set of used soft tyres which had already completed up to ten laps, as this would limit our strategic options.
"We therefore decided not to run in Q3 which will give us the choice of a fresh set of either tyre for our opening stint. "We expect to be racing in a very closely matched group of cars behind the leading teams tomorrow and we will have to race well in order to try and move up the field."
Having worked so hard to make it into the final part of qualifying - which he did with the sixth-fastest lap of Q2 and a best time of 1:25.976s - Rosberg admitted that it hadn't been a nice feeling to remain sitting where he was for the last 10 minutes of the session while everyone else was fighting it out on track.
"Of course it's not a nice feeling to be waiting in the pits and watching the others out there," he admitted. "But I'm reasonably happy today," he added.
He was certainly happier than his team mate Michael Schumacher, who had been unable to make it into the top ten and was therefore similarly sidelined in the pits for the final stage - albeit not by team choice in his case.
"We had a tough qualifying session today and I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning," said Schumacher afterwards. "In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tyres into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon.
"That means I am starting from quite an unpromising position tomorrow, but it also makes our tactics much simpler," he pointed out. "We have to look forward and battle hard."
Brawn added, "Michael was unfortunately unable to progress beyond Q2, and he was less comfortable with the car balance than he had been in practice this morning."
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