Nico Rosberg has secured his first front row qualifying position in F1 today in Malaysia. The young German bested his veteran teammate and 7-time wold champion Michael Schumacher, to give Mercedes GP it’s first front row starting position since re-entering the sport in 2010. Rosberg said:
â€œIâ€™m really pleased with my first front row start and itâ€™s great for me, the whole team and PETRONAS to have such a good qualifying result in Sepang for one of our home races. It was very difficult out there today and hard to keep it on the road at times. My run in Q3 was definitely my best of the day and I put in a good time on the first quick lap. By the second lap, the tyres started to degrade so it just wasnâ€™t possible to go any quicker from there. As soon as we went out, I thought intermediates were the way to go and maybe I should have come in but in the end it worked out well for us. Im confident that we can have a strong race from here tomorrow, if it is wet or dry, and Iâ€™m looking forward to it.â€
The rainy qualifying session reshuffled the deck of usual suspect toward the front of the grid with Ferrari and McLaren being caught out by waiting late in Q1 to make their bid for advancing into Q2. This left Red Bull and Mercedes to battle it out for the top spot for tomorrows race.
Schumacher looked as if he may have the pace early in Q3 but failed to capitalize on it as his tires performance fell off late in the session:
â€œI am obviously a little disappointed with my result today as it was evident from the earlier qualifying sessions that we looked pretty good and I clearly could have achieved more. On my last run in Q3, I wanted to secure a lap time and then go for the second lap but after I finished my first quick lap, the tyres were already gone so I could not go for it anymore. Though it is good to know the limits of the wet tyres for tomorrow, now I have to concentrate fully on the race. Congratulations to Nico today for scoring our first front row qualifying result.â€
The key to today’s action, should it rain during the race on Sunday, is what Mercedes discovered with the performance of the wet weather tires. Team boss Ross Brawn, considered one of the keenest among tactical bosses, is aware of the issues and this could play into some interesting tactics for the race:
â€œAn excellent performance from Nico today to achieve his first front row grid start in what were very challenging conditions for all of the drivers. In these situations, it is important to keep a cool and calm head and Iâ€™m very pleased with how the team worked together to ensure that we competed in all three sessions. It was a bit close on occasion but we reacted well and the drivers did the most important job of keeping the car on the track. In Q3, Nico had a great first lap to achieve his time for second position, however the wet tyres degraded very quickly and Michael suffered particularly on his second quick lap and was not able to improve. Itâ€™s very pleasing to have achieved our best grid position of the season here in Sepang for PETRONASâ€™s home race.â€
So the strategy for the race? It’s a gamble and rain could certainly play a large factor but look for Mercedes to work an aggressive tactic should rain fall and if it’s changing conditions or dry, I suggest Mercedes may not be looking to bad for the race.