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Mercedes’ confidence in Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher paid off on Saturday, as the German duo stormed to front row grid positions for the Chinese Grand Prix. The former sealed a career-first Formula 1 pole position on his 111th attempt, whereas the latter sealed his best grid position since returning to the sport.
As Mercedes returned to F1 as a factory outfit in 2010, today’s pole is their first since Juan Manuel Fangio grabbed the top spot in his third title-winning season of 1955. On that occasion, the scene was Monza and the Argentinean led team-mates Stirling Moss and Karl Kling in a top three lockout. This time, Rosberg did the honours with a best lap time of 1:35.121, out-pacing Schumacher by a huge half second margin.
“It was an exceptional qualifying session for us and I am very pleased with the way the whole team worked to achieve it,” said Team Principal Ross Brawn. “Congratulations to both drivers, but especially Nico on a stunning lap which earned him his first pole position. It is a great boost for everyone and gives lots of encouragement to the team here at the track, in Brackley and Brixworth.
“We hope it will prove to be a step on the way to achieving our ambitions; however, we know it is only a small step and that what really counts is the race. That's what we have been working on, to start delivering similar levels of performance on Sunday afternoon.”
Norbert Haug, Vice President for Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was also unable to hide his emotions upon receiving a number of congratulatory greetings in the paddock.
“What a fantastic lap from Nico for pole position - in his single attempt in Q3, he was half a second quicker than anybody else, which speaks both for him and the team,” he exclaimed. “A big thank you to everybody from Mercedes AMG Petronas for a great job and for all the relentless work that they are putting in to continuously improve our performance. The three fastest cars today are powered by the Mercedes V8, so well done to all our guys in Brixworth at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.
“A silver arrows front row last happened at Monza in 1955; now, after two years in the modern era of the silver arrows works team, we have achieved our first one-two on the grid. Although we are in the best possible positions today, we certainly do not think that we are already winners tomorrow. So far, our long runs on high fuel and our tyre usage didn't look bad according to Pirelli, so we all will do our best for tomorrow. Hats off to Nico again - this was a great lap, my friend, which you will remember for a very long time.”
Lewis Hamilton did qualify second for Mercedes-Mercedes, but drops back to seventh on the grid after taking a five-place grid penalty for an earlier gearbox change.
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