1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren)
3 – Michael SCHUMACHER (Mercedes)
Nico, sensational lap how do you feel about your first F1 pole?
Nico ROSBERG. Fantastic, yeah, thank you. It went really well, it’s a very special feeling definitely. Now obviously looking forward to starting first tomorrow.
Where did you find the time?
NR: The track was cooling off a little bit, the temperatures were coming down slightly and so the rear tyres started to work a little bit better. Changed the setup of the car slightly before the last run and just got a perfect lap so it worked out really, really well.
Lewis, moving to you, you virtually grew up with Nico through the karting and the single-seaters. Tell us how you feel first of all about his achievement today?
Lewis HAMILTON: Big congratulations to Nico, it’s fantastic and really done in style: it’s quite a big gap between us. I’m very proud of him and obviously we grew up racing together and always dreamed of being in Formula One together and now we’re on the front row together. Obviously I’ve got a penalty but still, it’s a good day.
And what about your own performance today and how you feel you’re fixed for the race, bearing in mind where you’re going to start on the grid tomorrow?
LH: We’re in a good position I think. I made some good setup changes to the car, it feels good, particularly for the long runs. It’s going to be tough for sure, there are a lot of good drivers ahead of me but I’ll be pushing as hard as I can.
Michael, we heard you on the radio asking for Nico’s lap time and when the engineer told you, you sounded pretty surprised by what he’d achieved. Sum up what you think about what you two have done today.
Michael SCHUMACHER: No, 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 [for me] to be unhappy. The opposite: happy for him for his first pole. Congratulations as we know – I guess – it’s going to be the first [front] row of a proper Mercedes Silver Arrow that we’re going to take place in the Shanghai Grand Prix tomorrow. That’s a great achievement.
That’s right, with Lewis moving five places back
MS: Good for us!
How about your race situation? Obviously you’ve qualified well inn these cars so far this season but we’ve seen you go backwards in the race. Do you think it’ll be easy on the tyres tomorrow in this car?
MS: Well, my two races, one I retired and the other one I got put backwards by being spun around, so it’s not completely clear what we would have seen with our car. It’s certainly a question mark whether we would have been able to keep up that position but we’ll try our best to do so.
Back you Nico, that’s qualifying over with but what do you feel you can do in the race because Mercedes certainly need the points tomorrow, don’t they?
NR: Yeah, for me it’s also sort of the start of the season now because the first two races haven’t gone too well. So it’s not bad to start first, obviously for us it’s fantastic. Of course it’s pretty clear I think that in the race we been not quite as good as in qualifying lately. We’ve worked very hard to try and improve that but it’s not something you can change in a few weeks. It’s going to take some time but we’re making good progress in the race, that’s important. It’s difficult to know exactly where we’re going to be tomorrow because again with the conditions changing, if it becomes a little bit colder that might help us, for example. I don’t really know how it’s going to go. For sure we’re going to try our best. We’re going to work hard tonight to try and do the final little details on the set up, electronically specifically, and make the most of it.
Nico, congratulations, I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this for a little while?
NR: definitely. It’s a great feeling. Fantastic. It worked out well, qualifying, especially as we got it all right in the end. It was a good lap and it all came together. It’s the perfect start until now. I’m really happy for the whole team. It really shows that, as a team, we’re moving forward. In qualifying we’re very, very strong now. In the race we’re still not quite as strong and not where we want to be yet but also there, we’re learning a lot and progressing fast. The thing is we can’t make huge jumps in a couple of weeks, it’s going to take a bit more time, but we’re getting there.
You said yesterday that you were struggling a little bit with the front tyres. I guess you weren’t in qualifying?
NR: In qualifying, not so much, no! In qualifying it was definitely better. The temperature coming down in the end slightly helped, just helped the rear tyres a little bit. We’re depending on that also a lot for tomorrow, then how the conditions are can change things a lot for us. It’s difficult to know really how well we’re going to go tomorrow. We’ll see.
You had an amazing margin over whoever was going to be second at the end. It must have been a funny situation when you were walking down the pit lane and everyone was still trying to beat you?
NR: You can say that for sure. The lap time was very, very strange. I had no idea if the track got a lot better or what was going on out there, so I was just hoping, ‘come on, let that be enough, please’ and it was, so it was good.
It must have been a perfect lap?
NR: It was, definitely.
Lewis, on the front row again, but sadly, you won’t be on the front row again [this weekend]. It looked like a good lap.
LH: Yeah, it wasn’t such a bad lap, but I’m pleased to say congratulations to Nico, it’s fantastic to see him up there and for us to qualify on the front row, for me, is a quite a cool feeling because we were team-mates back in 2000 and good friends from way before that. We always dreamed of being here on the front row and racing in Formula One and here we are. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to have that front row, but I’ll just have to work my hardest to try to catch him up.
What about that last lap. You aborted it. Were you just not going to be quick enough?
LH: I probably could have gone a tenth quicker but it was very close. It wasn’t enough to close the gap to Nico. No one else was improving on their times so it was important to try to save the tyres.
You’re a two-time winner here, so what are your chances tomorrow?
LH: I have a lot of work ahead of me. Just moving forward is what I’ll be aiming for and obviously to finish the race. Then we’ll just see what happens from there. You know anything can happen here with the weather. These guys are going to be massively quick, so I wish them all the best but I just hope me and Jenson can make our way forward and score some valuable points.
Q: Michael, you actually won from sixth on the grid here, that was your best ever grid position here and you’ve just beaten that by three places. We almost had the sight of Norbert (Haug, Mercedes motor sport boss) dancing in the garage just now, he was so happy. Obviously it’s a great result for the Mercedes team.
MS: Absolutely. Norbert has been suffering with us for the last two and a half years. Obviously it’s his little baby, to get the Mercedes car up front and to achieve this, with all the effort that Mercedes has put in, the team has put in, it’s just great. It’s the first front row for Silver Arrows for I don’t know how many years (Monza, 1955, three cars, Fangio, Moss, Kling), yeah, very proud of this one.
Q: Was this the sort of performance you’ve been expecting for the last couple of races?
MS: Actually not. Looking at yesterday, I didn’t think it would be enough to fight for pole position and looking at what Nico was able to do, obviously I think it’s a little surprise for all of us, but nevertheless, the gap looked a little bit bigger than it finally was today and good for us, let’s hope we can keep it that way. Obviously the further forward we are the better the prospects are for tomorrow.
Q: Are you quite confident with the tyres for the race tomorrow?
MS: Yeah. No, we don’t have a particular problem, it’s just a question of how the general speed on high fuel compares to the others, what that means, and then obviously you have tyre degradation, everybody has it, some have more, some have less but for me, I guess it will be the first proper race which I’m hopefully going to finish and I will tell more at the end!
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Nico, you only had one run in Q3; was it because you didn’t have any tyres any more or did you save one set?
NR: It was just a decision to save another set of tyres. It was a good lap, I didn’t know if it was going to be enough or not, but it was definitely a good lap and saving a set is very good for the race, so we just took the decision to go for that, because the race is where the points are, not in qualifying.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) You could have had two runs, did you save a set of tyres beforehand, then?
MS: Yup, same (as Nico).
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Nico, what was your feeling when you discovered that you had pole?
NR: First of all, it was strange beforehand because I was standing there on my own and everybody else was still going round, but I couldn’t do anything any more, so it was strange. And then slowly but surely, I saw the sector times and I saw that it was definitely going to be enough so fantastic, very excited.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Nico, you said that tomorrow might be good if the temperature goes down a little bit, because it might be better for the rear tyres, but yesterday, wasn’t it a problem that the low temperatures created some graining on the front?
NR: Yeah, that’s true, that’s why it’s difficult to foresee tomorrow and our performance compared to the other top teams. We just need to wait. We’re in a good position now, we’ve done our homework over the last couple of days, we’ve optimised what we have with the knowledge that we have. Of course, we’re still learning a lot with the car, a lot of things are different but we will see. Difficult to say.
Q: (China Radio International – Peng Yan Yuan) Michael, you came back last year, and now you’re doing well this year and we have Kimi coming back this year. So who’s going to be the next former World Champion coming back to Formula One?
MS: Well, there are plenty of elder champions around so I don’t know. Ask around!
Q: (Xinmin Evening News – Li Ran Ran) Nico, this year you have your first pole, do you feel pressure with Hamilton and Michael behind you?
NR: Of course. Of course I’m very proud, the first pole is great, for the whole team, it’s a special moment for the whole team and the first of many moments to come, great results and everything. And it’s great to share the qualifying podium here with Lewis and Michael. With Lewis, in the year 2000, we were saying how we imagined one day we were going to be one and two in F1 and now here in qualifying that’s the case, so that’s nice. Of course, having Michael to share the front row with is fantastic for the team, so it’s good.