Updated: Sunday, 27 July 2014 03:24 | By Agence France-Presse

Cautious Rosberg rides his luck as all around him suffer

Championship leader Nico Rosberg plans to "play it safe" in a bid to increase his 14 point title-race lead over Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.


Cautious Rosberg rides his luck as all around him suffer

Mercedes' German driver Nico Rosberg drives during the qualifying session of the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest on July 26, 2014 - by Attila Kisbenedek

After cashing in on the Briton's continuing bad luck in Saturday's qualifying session when his car caught fire, Rosberg said he would try to avoid anything similar happening to him.

"It makes it easier for me, of course, because he is my competitor," said Rosberg. "So, for me, It's a free opportunity tomorrow.

"I need to play it safe and avoid any unnecessary things happening and get as many points as possible.

"Also I would prefer to be out there battling with Lewis -- that would give me the maximum adrenaline rush.

"It won't be a gloves-off battle with Lewis but I am still very, very happy."

Both Mercedes drivers have suffered reliability issues in recent races and this, Rosberg admitted, is a cause of concern for him and the team ahead of a demanding contest, in hot conditions, at one of the slowest circuits.

"It's massively disappointing when the car breaks down," he said. "I had it two races ago at Silverstone.

"It's tough, not something you can control. It's a pity for the team, not a good thing and we need to keep working on it."

But Rosberg said he was satisfied, for the team, that they had demonstrated again that they have the continuing performance advantage to take pole on a circuit with few straights.

He added: "I have been surprised that we have been able to be so quick this weekend.

"Our engine is definitely very, very strong and here the engine doesn't come into play so much, so it shows how good our car is.

"With FRIC (suspension) not being on the car, we are still finding our way, so with lots of long corners here I am pleased with where we are."

Team-mate and title rival Hamilton left the circuit early after his car burst into flames on his first qualifying lap, preventing him clocking a time. He will start from the back of the grid or the pit lane.

"I think it's getting to the point beyond bad luck - it's something else. We just need to do better," he said.

Hamilton's disappointment capped a bad few days of injury and upset for the team following their multiple pile-up "Tour de France" cycling accident while riding in a group alongside the River Danube on Tuesday.

That resulted in several injured team members including commercial team chief Austrian Toto Wolff, who fractured his shoulder and collar bone. He was in a sling on Saturday.

The team said they were 'gutted' to have let Hamilton down.

Technical chief Paddy Lowe, who cracked ribs in the cycling crash, said: "I am absolutely gutted that we have let Lewis down again and given him such a tough job on another Sunday afternoon – so soon after his fantastic drive in Germany.

"We are still stripping the car to understand the cause of the fuel leak but the symptom was a loss of high pressure fuel to the direct injection system of the internal combustion engine.

"This fuel leak then caused a major conflagration which is likely to have written off most of the car."

By contrast to many of the team around him, Rosberg was able to celebrate a third consecutive pole just a week after completing a memorable spell that saw him marry his long-time girlfriend, sign a new contract, cheer Germany to their World Cup win and then triumph in his home race.

"Nico was under a lot of pressure from the changing conditions and some very competitive laps from Red Bull and Williams," Lowe added.

"But he delivered a fantastic lap time in the end to take another pole position, so well done to him. Overall, however, a huge apology to Lewis and his fans for our failure today."

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