Mercedes have revealed that its evaluation work was a key factor in the varied results secured by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.
Michael Schumacher qualified in sixth but will start from fifth due to Romain Grosjean’s five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
His teammate Nico Rosberg could qualify only in seventeenth leaving him with a uphill task to do.
Michael Schumacher’s performance came after a difficult run of form for the seven-time champion and he sai.d he was pleased with the result ahead of his penultimate race before retirement.
The German was however lucky to escape punishment for an incident that saw him delay Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari during Q2 with stewards electing not to penalise the Mercedes man as neither drivers was on their flying laps.
“Qualifying was better than we expected, especially as we have struggled over the weekend and have worked hard to make progress and achieve such a solid job today,” he said. “Qualifying in sixth place is a good and important position for us as a team. I had a good lap in Q3 and everything felt right with the car so we were able to maximise the potential.
“It will make a big difference here whether you start from the clean or dirty side of the grid, so gaining an extra place due to Grosjean’s penalty was a nice surprise. The car looks reasonably consistent for the race and I would like to achieve the maximum result possible tomorrow.”
While Schumacher continued to run with Mercedes’ coanda exhaust, Rosberg ran with a standard part as the team evaluates data for 2013 and he struggled to get the tyres on his car to work in the session.
“I ran our old exhaust system in qualifying today as part of our evaluation programme for next year,” he said. “We had already used it yesterday and made the decision to continue for the rest of the weekend to help with the learning process. The car felt good this morning in the cool temperatures but the difference to Michael’s car surprised me this afternoon. So I hope that the race pace is better tomorrow and the switch will be worth it. I will definitely push to score points.”