Schumi: Question mark on race pace
Michael Schumacher is happy to have helped Mercedes to the front row in China but says there are still uncertainties over their race pace.
Last Updated: 14/04/12 10:39am
Michael Schumacher believes there is no reason for him to feel downhearted after Nico Rosberg was first to claim a pole position for the modern-day Mercedes team and is now keen to see if they can continue to run at the front in race conditions.
The two Silver Arrows cars will head the grid for the first time at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday, with Rosberg producing a blistering Q3 performance to head the order while Schumacher benefitted from Lewis Hamilton's gearbox change penalty to jump from third to second - ensuring the 116th front-row start of his glittering career, but first in over five years.
Asked about his rather surprised-sounding response in a brief radio exchange with his race engineer during Q3 when told of Rosberg's initial 1:35.121 lap compared to his own 1:35.691, Schumacher replied: "I said actually 'well done' because that was a phenomenal lap time. For all of us to see the gap that big is a bit of a surprise. But there you go. He's known as a good qualifier and no reason to be unhappy.
"[But I feel] the opposite - happy for him and his first pole, congratulations, and as we find out now, I guess it's going to be the first [front] row of proper Mercedes Silver Arrow that's going to take place in the Shanghai Grand Prix tomorrow."
Given Schumacher had started the previous two races in strong positions on the second row, Mercedes' haul of one point in the Constructors' Championship heading into Sunday's race is massively underwhelming for the Brackley team.
While pointing to mitigating circumstances for his own disappointing race results, the 43-year-old admits there are still some uncertainties over the W03's likely performance in the race.
"Actually my two races - one I retired and the other I got put backwards put being spun around, so it's not completely clear what we would have seen with our car," Schumacher said.
"It's certainly a question mark whether we can keep up that position, but one thing you can believe [is] we will try our best to do so."