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April 14th, 2012
Nico Rosberg described taking his first Formula 1 pole position at his 111th attempt as ‘fantastic’.
The 26-year-old German set the fastest time in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix – a 1m35.121s –which proved to be just under half a second faster than his nearest rival’s best in Q3.
It was also Mercedes’ first pole position as a manufacturer team since Juan Manuel Fangio took the top spot for the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.
“It went really well and it’s a very special feeling,” Rosberg said. “Now obviously l am looking forward to starting first and the race!
“The track was was cooling off, the temperatures were coming down, so the rear tyres started working better. We changed setup before the last run and I did a perfect lap.”
Mercedes was always expected to be strong in qualifying for China, where the long straight plays to the advantages of its unique ‘double DRS’ system, and team-mate Michael Schumacher will line up alongside Rosberg on the front row when second-placed Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox-change grid penalty is taken into account.
Rosberg admitted however that he is more concerned about the W03′s race pace given its propensity to burn through tyres in long runs.
“It is clear in the race we have not been as quick as in qualifying, but we are making progress, we will try our best and work tonight and see what we can do with setup electronically and then make the most of it,” he said.
“It is a great feeling, getting a good lap in at the end and it shows as a team we are moving forward. In the race we are not there yet but we are getting there, we won’t make big jumps in a couple of weeks, it will take some time, but we are getting there.
“It’s difficult to know how well we will go tomorrow, so let’s wait and see.”
Rosberg first lap in Q3 was that much faster than the opposition that in the end he only chose to do one flying lap, opting to sit out the final minutes as his rivals tried to better his time, but he said the decision was a sound one.
“We just decided to save another set of tyres,” he added, “it was a good lap and saving a set was good for the race as the points are for the race not qualifying.”