Nurburgring, Germany, July 23, 2011 (AFP) - Michael Schumacher was left puzzled on Saturday after disappointing in front of his home crowd during qualifying for Sunday's German Grand Prix.
The seven-times champion wound up tenth fastest, with a best lap of the Nurburgring that was over a second slower than his Mercedes team-mate and German compatriot Nico Rosberg.
It was also the ninth time in ten races this year that the 42-year-old had been out-qualified by Rosberg, 26 - in spite of this, Schumacher insisted his car's lack of grip was the problem.
"We did not perform to expectations this afternoon and already this morning the car was not the one I had in my hands up to the first run in P3," he said. "It felt like I was just sliding around out there and the balance wasn't great."
The German explained that his team had initially put his lack of pace down to an issue with his car's KERS system. "We had a KERS problem this morning, which we thought explained the big gap to Nico, however in qualifying I was still nearly a second away and couldn't have matched his time, so we have to analyse deeply what could be the reason for it.
However, Schumacher admitted that he had overcompensated for his car's lack of grip and pushed too hard on his final qualifying lap. "Obviously then, I tried to push even harder to compensate, which lead to a mistake in the last chicane on my last lap, probably costing me P8. We now have to see how we can improve for tomorrow, and I will certainly try to have
a good start and a race as good as possible."
Rosberg, who qualified sixth, was encouraged by his performance and hoped to perform well in front of his home crowd.
"Sixth place is a good place to start tomorrow, and whether the conditions are wet or dry, I think we can have a good race from there," he said.
"I'm happy with the set-up work that we have achieved this weekend and that the new parts are working which is really satisfying. "We can see that we are going in the right direction. It should be an exciting race tomorrow and hopefully I can make up a couple of positions in front of all the German supporters."