Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is optimistic despite failing to qualify on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, with the wet conditions making a quick lap difficult for the German driver.
Having dominated practice alongside teammate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg appeared to be embroiled in an inter-team battle for pole position on Saturday. However, a heavy rain shower – so heavy that qualifying had to be delayed – meant that the track was wet on Saturday afternoon, scuppering Rosberg’s hopes of securing his first pole position of the season.
Eventually, he had to settle for third place after putting in a last-gasp lap to push Fernando Alonso out of the top three.
“I didn’t feel very comfortable on the extreme wet tyres at the end of Q3, especially on the brakes, but I was still able to improve enough to claim third from Fernando which was the positive for me,” Rosberg explained. “We’ve definitely improved the way we manage the sessions since Australia, so I was the last car to cross the line, but unfortunately the track didn’t really improve.”
Despite not starting on the front row, Rosberg is hoping for a repeat of his win in Australia two weeks ago which came from third place on the grid.
“It will definitely be a difficult and eventful race as the weather is predicted to be the same again, but that will give me opportunities to gain some positions,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the race and I want to get the best out of it, like we did in Melbourne.”
Pole position went to Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, whilst Sebastian Vettel secured his first front-row start of the season for Red Bull.
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
HUSTLING HELIO: Castroneves hunting for 2021 rides in IMSA, IndyCar
Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.