• Turkey, Saturday: Norbert, “Third place is a good result for us”

MERCEDES GP PETRONAS delivered its strongest qualifying performance of the 2011 season so far this afternoon at the Turkish Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher took third and eighth positions respectively in cool and sunny conditions at the Istanbul Park circuit.

Both MERCEDES GP PETRONAS drivers qualified in the top ten for the first time in 2011. “We’re pleased with the steady progress that we’ve made over the last couple of races”, said Ross Brawn after the session. “At the start of the season, we said that the car had more potential then we were extracting from it, and that’s now being proven true.”

Nico’s third place on the grid represents his best qualifying performance since the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix and his second consecutive second-row start in 2011. Norbert Haug was impressed by Nico’s lap: “It was a great lap from Nico and everybody in the team has done a very good job to improve the car consistently over the last two Grands Prix. Third place behind Sebastian and Mark is a good result for us and our guys have worked extremely hard.”

Michael Schumacher will start from eighth position, his first top-ten start of the 2011 season, but he had expected an even stronger performance after placing second in practice this morning. “Michael did not get the perfect lap in Q3, after being second fastest during the morning session”, declared Norbert. “With a good start from his place on the fourth row, he can improve in the race.”

Both drivers saved one set of new soft tyres for the race, after using hard tyres in Q1 and one set of new soft tyres each in Q2 and Q3 respectively. “There haven’t been any dramatic changes since the last race” said Ross. “The team and drivers have just kept their calm, and worked hard to get our package sorted. I’m now hoping we can have a good race tomorrow.”