With their innovative rear wing DRS set up Mercedes has threatened since the start of the season to grab a pole. Today in China Nico Rosberg delivered on that potential with his first Formula One pole position.
He set his time on his first run in Q3 and with a half a second gap to his nearest rival was able to sit out the final runs. Behind him Lewis Hamilton came closest ahead of the other Mercedes of Michael Schumacher.
With Hamilton to take a 5 spot penalty for a gear box change in his McLaren after Malaysia it will be a all Mercedes front row.
For Rosberg though it was a dream come true "It's a very special day for me because this is my first pole in Formula One, and the first for a Silver Arrow since 1955.
"Firstly it was a strange feeling because I was watching the end of Q3 from the FIA garage as we decided to save a set of option tyres for the race, and I couldn't do anything but watch!
"Seeing that I finished at the top of the timesheets and with half a second in hand made me the happiest man today. Thanks to the team, everyone here and in the factories, who have done a great job to develop and improve our Silver Arrow. We don't know what will happen in the race tomorrow, and it will be a challenge to stay in front, but for the moment, I will enjoy starting next to Michael from the front row which is also very special to me."
Hamilton was clearly happy for his friend “Very big congratulations to Nico [Rosberg] today. We first met back in 1997 and were team-mates in 2000. We’ve been good friends ever since. When we were team-mates, we always dreamed of qualifying first and second together in Formula 1 – and it’s crazy that we did that today.
"Looking at the race, we’ve got a good car but I’m going to have to work my way up through the field tomorrow. But as long as I move forward in the race, I’ll be happy. I’ve set my car up to be at its strongest in the race.
So, although Jenson and I are a little bit further back than we’d like, and we’ve got a bit of work to do, we can still make it. There’s a good group of drivers ahead of us on the grid, but we’re right with them in terms of race pace. This is a track where you can overtake, and we’ve got DRS too – so I’m massively excited about tomorrow.”
The 7 time World Champion has his best Qualifying since returning to the sport "This really is a special day for our Mercedes-Benz team, having two Silver Arrows starting from the front row of the Chinese Grand Prix. It's a great result, and I am very happy for everybody. Congratulations to Nico, he achieved his first pole position with a just fabulous lap.
"I can easily respect he did the better job today, and I am happy for him. I am equally happy for Norbert, Ross and all the guys here at the track and in Brackley and Brixworth, who had to wait quite some time and have been so patient. We can only compliment their hard work. A big thank you to Daimler for always supporting us; we are doing all we can to bring the Mercedes-Benz name to the front, where it belongs.
"As for me, I am happy too, and obviously my ambition for the race is to stay where we are now. But tomorrow is another story, even if in terms of set-up we have prepared the car mainly for the race. We will definitely try and show a good performance, and I am looking forward to it."
Mark Webber again got the better of reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel in their head to head battle in the red bulls. That means the Australian has outqualified Vettel at all three races. However this time he will start from 7th with Vettel in 11th having failed to make Q3. Givne the penalty to Hamilton he will start from 6th on the third row.
Webber felt he did not quite get all he could from the car in Q3 "The Q2 lap wasn’t bad, but I didn’t get the Q3 lap together as I would have liked. It’s a bit all over the place with pulling a lap time together on the soft tyre, but I would have liked to have finished a row further up.
"The 1m35.7 in Q2 was a good lap, but I maybe tried to eek a bit too much out in Q3. It’s frustrating. We know we have a good race car, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds tomorrow. It’s very close and we’ll keep pushing."
Down at Toro Rosso for the first time this year the cars have struggled to be on the pace this weekend. Just making Q2 was a achievement for Daniel Ricciardo “P17 is not going to put a smile on my face, as I had expected to do better today.
"I drove as hard as I could, but that did not produce a good enough lap time. With the package we had, I don’t think I could have got much more out of it. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and then we must look at trying to improve our qualifying performance for the next race. We are not where we want to be, especially as before the weekend, we had expected to be closer to the top ten.
"At the moment we don’t have the answers to what happened. This weekend, we had a few small updates but we also tried a few drastic measures in a way that required me to drive differently, so either we can make it work in Bahrain or we could go back to something we understand a bit better.”