2011 F1 Korean Grand Prix - Mercedes Qualifying Report: Nico Claims 7th and Michael slips to 12th
Mercedes GP took a very strategic approach to the Korean weekend. They spent all practice sessions on finding the right setup for race conditions. When qualifying rolled around, both drivers chose to do only one run in each of the qualifying periods in order to save tires for the race. Unfortunatly because of that Schumacher after complaints of vibrations in the car could ony manage 9th before dropping to 12th at the end of Q2. Nico Rosberg on the other hand made it through all three sessions and finished qualifying in 7th place.
The big story of qualifying was Hamiton. He dominated most of Friday's practice and Saturday's qualifying. At the end of qualifying, it was Hamilton, who grapped pole position, the first for Mclaren this year. This years newly crowned champion, Sebastian Vettel was 0.222sec slower to claim second. Jensen Button will start third, with Webber in fourth place.
The Ferrari's were third best, not being able to match Mclaren and Red Bull, but good enough to beat Mercedes. For the second time in a row Massa was able to outqualify Alonso, who was running Ferrari's new rear wing. Renault's Petrov took eighth, behind him were the updated Force India cars with Di Resta in ninth and Sutil, who did not run in tenth.
Nico Rosberg - 7th
Michael Schumacher - 12th
"I'm quite pleased with today. To find the right set-up for the qualifying and the race is always a compromise, particularly after such limited dry running, so I'm happy that we saved one set of option tyres. It will be tough to catch one of the top six drivers tomorrow but hopefully I'll have a good start and may be able to gain a position there. It will be an interesting race from the tyre perspective with a lot of stops, and I'm confident that our boys will do a great job in the pits again."
Ross Brawn, team principal
"To start with the positives of today's qualifying, I have saved two fresh sets of option tyres which is always helpful. On the other hand, it was obviously a pity what happened. Everything went normally in Q1, and from what you can expect of the tyres under normal circumstances, it was absolutely justified to go for just one run in Q2. But unfortunately I could feel that something was not right when leaving the pits as I had vibrations straight away. All that was left for us to do was hope that the gap would be big enough to remain in the top ten but that turned out not to be the case. We will now have a close look into what exactly happened and fully concentrate on trying to make up some positions in the race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug, vice president of motorsport
"It was a straightforward afternoon for Nico, and P7 represents what the car was capable of. We took a balanced approach to tyre usage with Nico making a single run in each session, and he goes into the race with one new set of options and two new sets of primes. The uncertainty over tyre performance after yesterday's wet running meant we wanted to keep as many new sets back as we could, although the performance is now looking more consistent than had been anticipated. Michael's pace on the prime in Q1 was very good, then as he went out on the options in Q2, he complained of a vibration. We debated whether to change tyres, but decided to stay out and try for the lap time. In the end, the pace did not reflect what the car was capable of, and there wasn't enough time to complete another run. Even so, Michael was just one tenth away from Q3, and he will have opportunities tomorrow. The track is definitely rubbering in after the rain, but the sparse support race programme means this is not happening as much as at other circuits. It will be very interesting to see what the race has in store."
"Like at previous races, we concentrated on setting up our cars for the best possible race performance. This was especially challenging here in Yeongam after the wet conditions yesterday left the teams just one hour of dry running this morning in P3 to prepare for qualifying and the race. Nico and Michael focused on saving tyres for the race, which possibly compromised our qualifying performance a little bit. We did longer runs this morning on the supersoft and the soft tyres, and the lap times on both compounds looked consistent. It should be dry tomorrow and our aim is to repeat our performances achieved in the recent races at Spa, Monza and Suzuka to get the best possible result from our current technical package. Congratulations to Lewis and McLaren Mercedes for the first non-Red Bull pole this season - and the 68th pole position for McLaren-Mercedes."
Full Qualifying Results: