Nico Rosberg qualified in 10th place for the Indian Grand Prix, whilst Michael Schumacher will start from 14th position.
Nico used two sets of soft tyres and one set of hard tyres, setting his fastest time of 1:25.976 on used softs in Q2. Nico will take two new sets of hard and one new set of soft tyres into the race, with a free choice of starting tyre. Michael used the same number of tyre sets and will have the same strategic opportunities open to him tomorrow.
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. 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.
We had a tough qualifying session today and I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning. In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tyres into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon. That means I am starting from quite an unpromising position tomorrow, but it also makes our tactics much simpler: we have to look forward and battle hard.
That was a qualifying session in which we had to balance the temptation to run to our ultimate pace and the realistic consideration of what the race will bring. After Q2, it was clear that seventh place was the maximum we could achieve with Nico, and his pace had been strongest on used tyres. However, we preferred not to go into the race on a set of used soft tyres which had already completed up to ten laps, as this would limit our strategic options. With a view to tomorrow, we therefore decided not to run in Q3 which will give us the choice of a fresh set of either tyre for our opening stint. Michael was unfortunately unable to progress beyond Q2, and he was less comfortable with the car balance than he had been in practice this morning. We expect to be racing in a very closely matched group of cars behind the leading teams tomorrow and we will have to race well in order to try and move up the field.
In Q2, Nico posted quite an impressive lap time on used options which was 0.541 sec slower than the fastest time of that session. So we were tempted to try the same again in Q3, however the downside would have been to start the race on options with quite a few laps on their shoulders. Therefore the team took a conscious decision not to go out for a timed lap as we found it better to have the free choice of fresh tyres rather than potentially starting higher up the grip on used rubber. We will see tomorrow whether this strategy will pay off. Michael was 0.6 seconds down to Nico in Q2 struggling with set-up and car balance which prevented him from reaching a top ten slot which he had achieved in the final practice session before qualifying.
Source: Mercedes AMG