Nico Rosberg said he compromised his qualifying performance in order to have a stronger Bahrain Grand Prix race pace on Sunday.
The Chinese Grand Prix winner looked like one of the favourites for pole position at Sakhir, but in the end had to settle for fifth position, four tenths of a second behind polesitter Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg said his Mercedes felt better in race trim, which is why he decided to compromise his qualifying chances, hoping it will pay off on race day.
"Of course it's very nice to be disappointed about fifth place - that shows how far we've come," said Rosberg after qualifying.
"In general we've been working towards the race, we just compromised qualifying a little bit to make it possible to do a good race tomorrow.
"We've been improving things all through the weekend and I feel more comfortable in the race than qualifying at the moment."
He insisted the key to the race will be to takes care of the tyres.
"It's just tyre management. Driving carefully," he said.
Rosberg's Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher was knocked out in Q1 after suffering a problem with his DRS.
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