Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg believe Mercedes could have taken pole at Malaysia
Rosberg says "we had the fastest car out there" in the dry
By James Galloway. Last Updated: March 23, 2013 12:46pm
Hamilton remains hopeful
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg believe Mercedes could have taken pole position for Sunday's Malaysian GP but for a late rain shower and an erroneous tyre strategy.
With the onset of a rain shower towards the end of Q2 at Sepang having ensured the battle for pole in the final knockout phase took place on a drying - but still wet - track, the fight ultimately hinged on which driver sacrificed some additional track time in the closing minutes to pit for a new set of intermediate tyres for the final runs.
Unlike Sebastian Vettel and the two Ferraris, neither Mercedes driver adopted this strategy and from provisional pole, Hamilton duly tumbled to fourth place at the chequered flag with Rosberg - who had earlier set a searing pace in the dry in Q2 - ending up two places further back.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 immediately afterwards, the frustration of missing out on the chance of pole was evident from both drivers - particularly Rosberg, given the German had impressively been leading the way in the dry.
"It was really a pity," Rosberg told Natalie Pinkham. "I was feeling very comfortable in the dry and was definitely the fastest guy out there. I had the best car out of there of everybody, so that was nice to see.
"Then unfortunately the rain came, but still, I was like 'okay, no problem I can still go fast', I just messed up the strategy. We stayed out there, when others came in for a new set, and I had damaged tyres."
Hamilton concurred that Mercedes should have twisted instead of sticking after he was unable to respond to Vettel or the Ferraris on his final lap.
"Of course putting new tyres on was the way to go. Our strategy was to stay out - we thought it would dry up more and it would work in our favour, but it didn't," he bemoaned.
"I want to be pole so initially when you get out of the car of course you don't think you're happy, I was working to get pole position as we were as a team."
Nonetheless, neither driver was letting their collective Q3 disappointment cloud their expectations for a race which could produce further tricky wet/dry conditions.
Mercedes' young guns
Having focused on improving their W04s race pace on Friday, Hamilton had suggested they had made a step forward in time for Sunday.
"We were a little bit further back than we really were hoping for, but it's motor racing, everyone's in the same boat and tomorrow there's lots of positives to take out of today and yesterday so I'm excited about the race," the former World Champion declared.
Indeed, after seeing Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen come through from row four to win at Albert Park last Sunday, Rosberg added: "I have a good car, especially also in the race, and as we saw in Melbourne seventh place won the race so it's still possible."