• Indian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Rosberg hopes saving fresh tyres pays off

ESPN Staff
October 27, 2012 « Start will be crucial - Button | Raikkonen admits set-up error »
Nico Rosberg did not set a lap time in Q3 © Sutton Images
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Nico Rosberg said the advantage of running fresh tyres at the start of the race led Mercedes to decide not to set a lap time during the final session of qualifying at the Indian Grand Prix.

Rosberg's Q2 time would have been enough to secure seventh on the grid in Q3, but rather than go out for another run in the top-ten shootout he decided to save a fresh set of soft tyres for Sunday's race. He will now start tenth on the grid at a track where overtaking is difficult and he said he would have to wait to see if the strategy paid off.

"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," he said. "Of course it's not a nice feeling to be waiting in the pits and watching the others out there however. It seems that the race will be tough on the tyres with very long stints, so I should have an advantage compared to the cars in front of me. I'll be able to tell you tomorrow if it was the right decision but I'm reasonably happy today as we looked like we have made a small improvement here."

Rosberg said the improvements had helped with one-lap pace but he couldn't be sure about how it would affect tyre wear on Sunday - a problem Mercedes has been dealing with all year.

"This track suits our car a bit better and we've also done some setup improvements with the car that we have. I think we've just got more out of it. Yes, we've done a step forward here, especially in qualifying, but I'm not so sure about tomorrow. That's one of the reasons we've decided to start on new tyres because that will definitely help us for the race. Up until now it has been a positive weekend and a step in the right direction."

Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher could only manage 14th on the grid and said his side of the garage was investigating why the car's performance dropped away between final practice and qualifying.

"There was not one particular part I was missing out," Schumacher said of his qualifying lap. "The car was pretty good this morning, but for whatever reason not that good in the afternoon. I couldn't, basically, repeat. I just managed the same lap time as what I managed this morning and on considerably less fuel in the afternoon. We have some understanding of the problem but I'm not sure it explains everything."