Disappointed Mercedes lament Bahrain qualifying meltdown

(L to R): Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 21 April 2012.

Nico Rosberg walks through the Sakhir parc ferme after qualifying fifth for the Bahrain GP

Apr.22 (F1 Media) The Mercedes team found themselves unable to repeat their Shanghai qualifying performance during a difficult afternoon for the China GP winners in Bahrain.

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 runs wide. Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 21 April 2012.

Nico Rosberg runs wide during qualifying

While many had tipped Mercedes to claim pole position, instead Nico Rosberg had to settle for fifth, while Michael Schumacher suffered a mechanical failure which left him a lowly 18th, and eliminated at the end of Q1. He will advance one place on the grid as a consequence of Pastor Maldonado’s gearbox penalty.

“I am obviously very disappointed to have qualified in 18th position on the grid for a race which looks to be quite competitive for us,” said Schumacher afterwards. “Unfortunately on my fast lap, which was looking quite good, my DRS broke in the last sector. We tried to fix it in the garage but were not able to go out again. Trying for a lap without DRS on different tyres would not have made sense. We now have to try to see what we can do from here and push as much as possible.”

Rosberg still looked in good shape, having topped the timesheets again on Saturday morning. He progressed to Q3 but opted to do only one timed lap, conserving a set of soft tyres for the race. His run never looked like challenging the Red Bulls or McLaren and his time was four-tenths off pole. Nevertheless, the German driver was upbeat regarding his chances in the race.

Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal. Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday 21 April 2012.

Ross Brawn on the pit gantry during Bahrain qualifying

“In general, I felt very comfortable during qualifying today,” he said. “As we have been focusing on our race pace, there is always a compromise in the qualifying set-up. I think that I’m in a good position for the race for tomorrow. I am the only driver in the top five who has a set of new option tyres which can be very useful at this circuit. It will be very important to drive carefully, and find the right tyre management in the race, as the conditions are very tough out there.”

Team principal Ross Brawn echoed Rosberg’s view. “In Q3, we made the strategic decision for Nico to do just one lap and, although his starting position is not optimum, he is the only driver in the top five to have a new set of option tyres available. This could prove valuable in the race, and we will learn tomorrow if our strategic decision pays off. It will be a long and interesting race in demanding conditions, and we will look to make the most of our opportunities.”

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