Indian F1 Grand Prix 2012: Complete Report (MBAMGF1)

I. Friday's Free Practice Report

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher completed the first two practice sessions for the 2012 Airtel Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit today.

• In total, Michael and Nico completed 123 laps today in practice - over two race distances
• Both drivers focused on tyre evaluation work, along with set-up programmes on high and low fuel
• The fastest times in P1 and P2 were respectively 0.8s and 0.5s slower than in the same sessions last year

Nico Rosberg
“We learned a lot in the two practice sessions today and found some good set-up directions, so it was a decent day. Fourth place is not our realistic position at the moment but I am confident that we’re looking a little better here than at the previous two races.”

Michael Schumacher
“We had two sessions today where we worked mainly on long runs and the performance was reasonable by the end of the day. The car balance was ok, particularly in the first sector with the slower corners, and as such confirmed the performance that we expected from the circuit characteristics. With the soft tyres, I didn’t really get a lap together, but we managed to build a basis to work on for the rest of the weekend.”

Ross Brawn
“We’ve had a very solid day’s work here today and completed our planned programme. Our focus was on getting the car balanced which went pretty well over the two sessions. The tyres are very consistent here and, whilst there are still improvements to make to the car, we’re looking in reasonable shape for the weekend.”

Norbert Haug
“A positive first day for our team. It would be wrong to read too much into Nico´s position in the second session but all in all this was a better Friday for us than we had during the last couple of races.”

II. Saturday's Qualifying Report

Nico Rosberg qualified in 10th place for the Indian Grand Prix, whilst Michael Schumacher will start from 14th position.

• Nico used two sets of soft tyres and one set of hard tyres, setting his fastest time of 1:25.976 on used softs in Q2
• Nico will take two new sets of hard and one new set of soft tyres into the race, with a free choice of starting tyre
• Michael used the same number of tyre sets and will have the same strategic opportunities open to him tomorrow

Nico Rosberg
“In terms of our strategy for the race, it was better for us not to run in Q3 as it should give us a better pace tomorrow with fresh tyres. Of course it’s not a nice feeling to be waiting in the pits and watching the others out there however. It seems that the race will be tough on the tyres with very long stints, so I should have an advantage compared to the cars in front of me. I’ll be able to tell you tomorrow if it was the right decision but I’m reasonably happy today as we looked like we have made a small improvement here.”

Michael Schumacher
“We had a tough qualifying session today and I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning. In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tyres into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon. That means I am starting from quite an unpromising position tomorrow, but it also makes our tactics much simpler: we have to look forward and battle hard.”

Ross Brawn
“That was a qualifying session in which we had to balance the temptation to run to our ultimate pace and the realistic consideration of what the race will bring. After Q2, it was clear that seventh place was the maximum we could achieve with Nico, and his pace had been strongest on used tyres. However, we preferred not to go into the race on a set of used soft tyres which had already completed up to ten laps, as this would limit our strategic options. With a view to tomorrow, we therefore decided not to run in Q3 which will give us the choice of a fresh set of either tyre for our opening stint. Michael was unfortunately unable to progress beyond Q2, and he was less comfortable with the car balance than he had been in practice this morning. We expect to be racing in a very closely matched group of cars behind the leading teams tomorrow and we will have to race well in order to try and move up the field.”

Norbert Haug
“In Q2, Nico posted quite an impressive lap time on used options which was 0.541 sec slower than the fastest time of that session. So we were tempted to try the same again in Q3, however the downside would have been to start the race on options with quite a few laps on their shoulders. Therefore the team took a conscious decision not to go out for a timed lap as we found it better to have the free choice of fresh tyres rather than potentially starting higher up the grip on used rubber. We will see tomorrow whether this strategy will pay off. Michael was 0.6 seconds down to Nico in Q2 struggling with set-up and car balance which prevented him from reaching a top ten slot which he had achieved in the final practice session before qualifying.”

III. Sunday's Race Report

Nico Rosberg finished the Indian Grand Prix in 11th place today with team-mate Michael Schumacher classified in P22.

• Nico completed a one-stop strategy, running soft then hard tyres, and made his pit stop on lap 27
• Michael suffered a first lap right-rear puncture after contact with another car at the first corner
• He made two stops on laps one and 33, starting the race on the hard tyre, then running two sets of soft tyres

Nico Rosberg
“Finishing just outside of the points is always tough, and it was a hard afternoon for us out there. Starting with new tyres, I hoped to be able to make up a couple of places but we just didn’t have the pace so I had to keep fighting off the cars coming from behind me. It’s a difficult time for us but we are learning for next year so that’s one positive thing.”

Michael Schumacher
“That was a pretty unsatisfactory race today. It was effectively over just after the start; I lost so much time getting back to the pits with the puncture that any hope of scoring points was gone. In the meantime, the pace was pretty good but I was too far behind to make up more than a few positions. In the end, we had to retire the car for technical reasons.”

Ross Brawn
“We are racing in a closely-matched field this season, where a few tenths of a second in lap time make a significant difference to your position. At the moment, we are on the wrong end of those precious tenths and that once again left us outside the points this afternoon. Nico made his one-stop strategy work well, looking after his tyres so that he still had reasonable speed at the end of both stints, but otherwise he had a relatively quiet race. As for Michael, the contact at the first corner made it an uphill battle for him from turn two onwards, and left him at the back of the field. However, by running two stints on the option tyre, he was able to show respectable speed at some points of the race. We brought his car in before the end of the race as a precaution after we became aware of some gearbox concerns.”

Norbert Haug
“Michael suffered contact on the opening lap, which caused a puncture and put him to the back of the field after his pit stop. He retired the car with a gearbox issue five laps before the finish. As for Nico, his car didn´t have the speed to score points after starting from 10th position. We have a lot of work to do and everybody in the team is well aware of it.”

~ Official photos and reports courtesy of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS ~

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