Williams endured a frustrating qualifying session ahead of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, with Nico Rosberg on the outer fringes of the top ten and debutant Kazuki Nakajima failing to make it beyond the Q1 drop.

The early signs had looked promising for the Grove-based outfit, with Rosberg pulling a stellar late effort out of the bag to propel himself into the final shoot-out after lingering in the Q2 danger zone. He would, however, go no further, and insisted afterwards that was about as much as there was to be extracted from his FW29.

"My engineers have done a good job improving the car throughout the weekend," the young German praised after sealing his eleventh top ten grid slot of his season in the top flight, "particularly since this morning's session, but I think we were still quite lucky to get into Q3 today. I nailed the lap in Q2; I couldn't have got anything more out of the car.

"In Q3, with more fuel on-board, I had a small balance problem and made a minor mistake too, which probably cost me a tenth or two. I could perhaps have just beaten (David) Coulthard if everything had worked out perfectly, but you cannot always get the best out of a lap.

"I think we have to be pleased with where we are and just try to do our best tomorrow. We seem to be pretty strong over long runs, so we should be in good shape for the race."

New boy Nakajima, brought into the race line-up to replace the recently-retired Alex Wurz, was less fortunate still, missing out on the Q1 cut by four tenths of a second after displaying encouraging pace throughout free practice. The Japanese - son of former Formula 1 star Satoru Nakajima - will consequently begin his maiden grand prix down in 19th on the grid.

"It was difficult today," the 22-year-old confirmed. "I don't know why, but the car felt quite different in qualifying compared to this morning's practice session and I couldn't get it completely right. Combined with a couple of mistakes, qualifying was disappointing. I will now go and look at my data in comparison to Nico's and see where I can improve for the race."

With Williams' fourth spot in the constructors' championship under threat from a resurgent Red Bull Racing, technical director Sam Michael well understands the necessity of a points-scoring performance on Sunday. Both RBR machines will line up ahead of Rosberg on the grid, and should they finish in the same positions in the race the Milton Keynes squad will pinch the place.

"Today's result wasn't exactly what we'd hoped for," the Australian admitted. "In his debut outing, Kazuki was knocked out in the first round. In Nico's case we thought we could get a couple more positions out of Q3, but he didn't have a perfect balance and that prevented him from qualifying any higher. Tomorrow's race will be interesting and we'll fight as hard as we can."

 

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