Nico Rosberg has admitted to being baffled by a sudden loss of pace and grip after being beaten to pole position for the eighth time in nine races by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
After dominating proceedings in both Friday practice sessions, the German posted a faster Sector 1 time than Hamilton on his final flying lap and looked on course to beat the crowd favourite to pole, only to see his advantage ruined with a poor run over the remainder of the lap.
Speaking after qualifying second-fastest, Rosberg – winner of three of the last four Grands Prix this year – put it down to an unexpected loss of power and the sudden onset of understeer through the high-speed Becketts sweeps.
“I lost quite a lot on straightline speed also, that is now the latest thing. So, a lot [of time] in that – and that was on my fastest lap,” he reflected.
“We don’t know why yet. We have looked into various things and it is not exactly clear yet. On the second attempt, [I felt] something very strange on the left front. Maybe it was wind or something, it is difficult to say for now we need to look into it – but it was so extreme.
“I lost like half a second and it was a good lap, there was no way to get around the corner so we need to look into that as well.
“Everybody was all over the place, so maybe it just caught me out on that one,” he added, referring to the gusty wind conditions that affected a number of other drivers.
“The first lap was really good, so I was sure that I would be ahead of Lewis and I was disappointed that he was one tenth ahead of me.”
Despite his disappointment, Rosberg was optimistic that he could still have the legs on Hamilton in race trim, having been comfortably quicker than the Englishman on longer, heavier-fuelled runs in Friday’s practice sessions.
“This weekend had one of the biggest differences in terms of long run pace as we were practicing on Friday; Lewis was struggling quite a lot there, so that is another hope that I have,” he added. “That will be another thing that will help me tomorrow.”
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
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