Nico Rosberg felt confident after scoring his fourth consecutive pole position in qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday, but remains wary of how tire strategy may play out on the newly-surfaced Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.
Formula 1 returns to Mexico for the first time since 1992 this weekend, and it was Rosberg who claimed pole position on Saturday after edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by two-tenths of a second at the end of Q3.
Speaking after the session, Rosberg was pleased to deliver on the pace that he had shown during practice in Mexico, but was cautious about the tire challenge posed by a green track.
“I just felt good all weekend,” Rosberg said. “I’ve been quick in all the sessions, and I found a good balance in qualifying. Thanks to my engineers and the team, I was able to push and get a good lap in.
“It’s a good start for sure, starting from pole. It’s a long run down to turn one so it’s going to be an exciting battle, and then I’m sure we have a good race car.
“It will be interesting tire-wise. There was some stuff going on on Friday which is going to be not so easy to handle in the race, I think, but we’re prepared well, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Rosberg and Hamilton came to blows in Austin over the latter’s aggressive overtake at turn one, but the German insisted that he would not be changing his approach as a result.
“It’s no different, it’s always going to be a battle and what’s in the past is in the past,” Rosberg said. “Now we move forward. It doesn’t change.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, qualifying third, tried to make light of the situation, saying to Rosberg and Hamilton: “Can you make sure you take both of you out so I can go through? Yes..? No..? I tried…” – he was met by silence from both Mercedes drivers.
Rosberg has converted just two of his last ten pole positions into a race win, and has not stood on the top step of the podium since the Austrian Grand Prix at the end of June.
Victory in Mexico would take Rosberg back ahead of Vettel in the race for second in the drivers’ championship, but with Hamilton keen to extend his win streak on Sunday, the German is likely to face a tough challenge from across the Mercedes garage.
The Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 1:30pm ET on Sunday.