A gearbox penalty to Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes GP driver, compounded what is shaping up to be a miserable weekend for the German team. Michael Schumacher qualified 11th and Rosberg 12th yesterday, but both drivers are set to drop down the starting grid because of penalties. Schumacher will drop 10 places for nearly forcing Rubens Barrichello into a wall at high speed at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and Rosberg's replacement of his gearbox before qualifying means he will be penalised five places.
"We've done a lot of work on our car in the past races but this hasn't matched the performance and we've obviously dropped back," said Ross Brawn, the team principal. "Michael and Nico ended up missing out on [the final session] by fractions of a second due to another driver, which is frustrating." Frustrating is probably the word that best describes the year at Mercedes. They expected to contend for the title but are already focussing on developing their 2011 car.
"It's definitely becoming more and more difficult [to compete] because on pure pace we're just not there," Rosberg said. "I'm hoping for rain tomorrow - it's our only chance." Schumacher's best finish this season is fourth. He has not had a season without a top-three finish since 1991, his rookie year. "I'm not disappointed because that's where I expected to be," Schumacher said of his grid position. "The best scenario was 16th but then today we saw ninth or 10th was achievable."
* Associated Press