Rosberg at yesterday's practice. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas
Nico Rosberg was the fastest of the two Mercedes drivers yesterday at free practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, putting pressure on his team-mate Michael Schumacher who complained about the "green track" affecting his tires.
Rosberg produced a fastest lap of 1:117.151, more than half a second over Schumacher, but just 0.274 of second behind pace setter, Sebastian Vettel. Rosberg was fairly happy with his result and should be able to take some of that momentum into today's qualifying session.
"I'm generally pleased with the progress that we made today although conditions were difficult because it was very slippery out there on the track. We made some good set-up changes to help the car around this circuit and spent a lot of time working with the tires to understand their performance. The soft option tire was particularly difficult and we were struggling a little there, like many teams. But overall it was a good start and we have a lot of information to look at tonight before qualifying."
By contrast seven-time champion Michael Schumacher expressed mixed feelings about his practice pace yesterday complaining, like many drivers, about the nature of the circuit which has been brutal on tires. "My sessions today were a bit mixed. In the morning, we were making progress but towards the end we carried over some issues into the second session which we could not solve. The main focus this afternoon was to get the tires together."
(Schumacher in the garage during yesterday's practice session in Canada. Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP Petronas)
"The track is pretty green with not much rubber," added Schumacher, "which means the tires are getting a hard time and everybody was struggling with graining. If it rains, the track will remain green and it will probably be difficult to hold the tires together again, even the harder compound. For tomorrow, it is difficult to predict what we will be able to achieve. My feeling is that we will perform according to our expectations which is around the third quickest of the teams."
It will be interesting to see today which teams Schumacher is referring to, since Fernando Alonso was only fractionally slower than Vettel, despite his claims of brake problems due to the Ferrari engineers toying with their set up. McLaren struggled in the second session and the BBC reported comments from Lewis Hamilton who was non-plussed about the car's performance.
If McLaren stumble in today's qualifying that could be good news for Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault who have struggled to keep pace with Red Bull and the recent form of the McLaren team.
It will be riveting to see how today's qualifying session pans out especially if weather plays a part in creating additional drama.