Nico Rosberg’s Formula One rivals made life easy for the runaway championship leader in Russian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday but the German did not consider himself particularly fortunate.
While Rosberg qualified on pole position with a lap so much quicker than the rest that he was out of his car before the end of the session, team mate Lewis Hamilton suffered engine problems for the second successive race weekend.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the four times world champion who qualified second, was demoted to seventh place after a grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.
“Of course, I am aware of the misfortune of my direct competition, but then I would say its more them being unfortunate,” Mercedes’ Rosberg told reporters when asked whether he felt lucky.
Rosberg, who has finished runner-up to triple champion Hamilton in the last two seasons, has won the first three races of the campaign — six in a row including the last three of 2015 — and leads the Briton by 36 points.
“On my side it’s been… I wouldn’t say a special day, but I’m completely satisfied,” said the German. “There’s not many days like that out there.
“My car was just on rails, the balance was right and I was on it and it was just feeling great. So it was a particularly special experience out there.”
That said, Rosberg was concerned that his team’s famed reliability was not what it used to be.
Dominant Mercedes have won 35 of the last 41 races, and will have started 40 of 42 on pole, but there are clear chinks in the armour.
Hamilton, who will start 10th on the grid on Sunday, has now been sidelined in qualifying for two successive grands prix.
“It’s not something that I can influence. Of course, I am aware that reliability is not our strength at the moment, it’s an area we need to be working on,” said Rosberg, who suffered throttle failure in Russia last year and retired after starting on pole.
“I have all the trust in the team that they are going to get on top of things very quickly and sort out the few little issues that we are having at the moment.”