The Scuderia Ferrari outfit saw its two drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen qualify in fifth and sixth places for this weekends Monaco Grand Prix. Alonso was seven tenths of a second off the pole position time of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, while Raikkonen ended up a further seven tenths behind his team-mate.
Alonso was happy to be ahead of team such as Force India and Williams, and felt they were close to Red Bull Racing, but felt fifth was about right for the team. He believes a dry race on Sunday will be like an endurance event, with the driver who can look after their tyres the best and stay out the longest likely to be ahead.
“Today’s result encapsulates the state of play this weekend and it’s more or less what we expected, but I don’t think it went badly, because we managed to stay ahead of rivals who have been front runners so far, such as Williams and Force India and, most importantly, we are closer to the Red Bulls,” said Alonso. “We have made more changes than usual here, because we were suffering with understeer and we had some problems under braking and the car has improved a lot. Compared to what we expected, the tyres seem too hard and we are struggling a lot to get them up to temperature.
“If the race is run in the dry tomorrow, then it will be an endurance race to see who can stay out on track the longest. However, if it was to rain, as has been suggested, then just getting to the finish will already be a good result, because as we saw on Thursday from the few laps we did, it’s really on the limit, like sliding around on ice.”
Team-mate Raikkonen was less than happy with his qualifying, despite making set-up changes that brought him closer to the front. He admits he has been fighting with the car all weekend, and hopes to get the best result possible in the race.
“I’m not happy with this qualifying, because even though we worked hard on the set-up, making several changes, my feeling with the car didn’t improve much,” said Raikkonen. “Right from Thursday I had to fight to find the best solution and the time lost during the second free practice session certainly didn’t help. On top of that, we are not able to make the tyres work well here and in that situation, it’s not easy to put together a good lap, especially on a track where you don’t get a second chance.
“Sixth place is not ideal, but neither is it a disaster and tomorrow we will do our best to get the most out of it all.”
Technical Director Pat Fry knew both drivers were lucky with traffic during qualifying to be as high up as they are, especially with the tyres taking a few laps longer here to warm up to operational temperature than usual.
“Finding the right window to put in the quick laps and avoid traffic is always a crucial aspect of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, especially in Q1 and Q2,” said Fry. “Here, the tyres are taking a few more laps to be at their best and this slightly complicated the process, but luckily we didn’t have any major problems with either car. The gap has come down to the Red Bulls and also to Mercedes, but the result hasn’t changed since the previous races. In any case, both Fernando and Kimi got the most out of the F14 T, which continues to improve step by step.
“It will be a long and demanding race tomorrow for the whole team, with the thousands of variables this Grand Prix can throw up. The chance of rain is only slight, but nevertheless we want to be prepared to tackle both scenarios to give our drivers the best chance of bringing home as many points as possible.”