STARTING ON THE SECOND ROW: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg waves after placing fourth in the qualifying session at the Italian GP. It was the German's worst qualifying performance of the season so far. Image: AFP/ Andreas Solaro
MONZA, Italy - Nico Rosberg blamed his enforced need for a hasty change of Mercedes engine for the loss of speed that resulted in him qualifying only fourth on Saturday for Sunday's (September 6) Italian Grand Prix.
His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamiltonclaimed his 11th pole in 12 races by topping the session, with a new upgraded engine, followed by the Ferrari's of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
"NICO WASN'T DOWN ON POWER"
It was Rosberg's most disappointing qualifying effort of the season and a relative loss of power, on a circuit where it is essential, appeared to be the clearest reason.
But Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda disagreed with his driver and claimed, instead, that handling problems were the reason for Rosberg's failure to qualify on the front row.
Lauda said: "Nico was not down on power.
"He had handling problems - he had too much under-steer... He complained about it.
"He couldn't get the car to handle properly for his way of driving and this made a huge difference. The surprise for me, and everybody, was the Ferrari performance.
"They really came up to a good top speed and the engine improvement has been shown now, surprisingly enough. It's impressive what they've done with their engine here."
Rosberg posted this picture on his Instagram account:
USED ENGINE FROM BELGIAN GP
Rosberg was forced to change from the upgraded new engine introduced by Mercedes for this race after his unit developed a problem on Saturday (August 5) morning.
He insisted that was his problem, not the handling issues.
Rosberg said: "We had to go back to an engine that's done six races.
"And every kilometer you lose a bit of power, especially in Monza, which is the absolute power track for engine.
"It's very disappointing that it happened exactly here, for me.
"That's a really big compromise then and that's the reason why I'm fourth today, which makes the race tough, because I'm also a bit slower than I could be in the race as well.
The German added: "It's not ideal and it's going to be difficult."