Nico Rosberg searching for positives after Lewis Hamilton outqualified him in China
German fighting hard to stay optimistic after qualifying down in fourth place
By Mike Wise and James Galloway in Shanghai
Last Updated: 19/04/14 12:44pm
The German, winner of the season-opener in Australia, holds an 11-point lead over Hamilton as the Drivers' Championship starts to take shape but the momentum is currently with the Briton after victories in Malaysia and Bahrain.
Hamilton underlined his current form by taking pole position at a wet Shanghai International Circuit with a lap over half a second faster than the second-placed Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
In contrast, Rosberg lines up fourth after spinning on his final flying lap. Moreover, after coming off second best in the ding-dong battle the Silver Arrows fought in the Middle East two weeks ago, the 28-year-old's self-belief is clearly being tested to the limit.
Asked on Saturday whether he's starting to feel the pressure, Rosberg replied: "In my head, I turn it to a positive rather than the way you've now put it. So in my head I'm actually the one who has the momentum.
"That's the way I go with that because that's the positive, strong, optimistic outlook that I need to have myself to go forward, push flat-out, keep on going.
"So all the things I see is that I was the quicker one in Bahrain [qualifying], didn't make it work but I had the momentum, the pace, for race speed and I expect to have that again tomorrow.
"Okay, the start position is not great and I'm not happy about the way today went but I have the momentum behind me for tomorrow's race pace and it will be a tough race."
Rosberg said he had brake problems during qualifying and blamed his Q3 spin exiting the last corner on a faulty target time displayed on his steering wheel - which forced him to go for broke when he had no need to.
"I had an unexpected lock-up on the front; I don't know why it's happened yet. So that was that lap, I had an unexpected lock-up into Turn 14 and [was] going well until then," he said.
"Then unfortunately coming out of the hairpin, my time delta said that I was two tenths slower than my reference time.
"Knowing that, I said, 'Okay just two tenths off, just take a risk at the last corner' because anyways I'm slower, I might as well just go for it. And then I spun at the last corner.
"It was strange. It's so reliable normally that I just go for it and I believe it - and it was wrong. I was actually six tenths up going into the last corner."
Rosberg also starts behind both Red Bulls but hopes Mercedes' power advantage will help him deal with Sebastian Vettel and Ricciardo.
And assuming the race is a dry one, he reckons tyre wear - specifically graining of the front left - will also be a factor.
"For sure, there will be things happening. Some people will struggle more than others; I had a good run Friday, so I'm going into it confidently," Rosberg added.
"This Red Bull package in the middle is not very helpful but that's the way it is and with the top speed that I have, I'm hoping that I'm going to get by them somehow."