Ferrari brought some upgrades to its car for the Canadian Grand Prix, but Fernando Alonso could only qualify seventh while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was down in tenth in Montreal.
Alonso felt that the Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams teams all performed better in Montreal than Ferrari, and that seventh was the best he could have hoped for going into qualifying. The Spaniard knows the race will be interesting with temperatures set to rise, which could mean the strategy when it comes to tyre choices could be more important.
“The result of qualifying reflects the trend we have seen since the start of the season,” said Alonso. “As often happens, even if on Friday we are front runners, on Saturday we struggle a bit more. The development package we have brought here in Canada has worked well, the car has improved and I am pleased about that, even if at the moment we are unable to extract all the potential out of the car.
“Mercedes’ dominance today was not a surprise and the Red Bulls and Williams also did better than us. I think tomorrow’s race will not be easy, as it is hard to overtake at the start here, because there is not enough room through the first two corners. We will also have to do a good job of managing tyre degradation and of choosing the right number of stops.
“It’s been much hotter than yesterday and the tyre that seemed to be the best to race on, the Soft, today appeared less suited to the conditions than the Supersoft. If, as expected, the hot weather continues, the choice will move towards the latter and that will mean making one more stop.”
Team-mate Raikkonen was disappointed with qualifying that left him down in tenth place on the grid. The Finn was unable to get a representative lap time in when his tyres began to slide across the track during his one and only run in the session.
“All weekend, I haven’t been completely satisfied with the handling of my car and again today in qualifying I found it difficult,” said Raikkonen. “On my only run in Q3, I went out on a new set of Supersofts, but my F14 T was sliding a lot and I couldn’t put together a good lap. Maybe I could have been one or two places higher up, but I don’t think it would have changed much.
“Even if the updates we tried yesterday worked, we knew it wouldn’t be easy: probably this is one of the tracks that least suits the characteristics of our car. I expect a very long race tomorrow, in which anything could happen. We will try and get a good start and then give it our all.”
Technical Director Pat Fry admitted the Ferrari were hopeful of qualifying higher up than they managed in Canada. He witnessed Red Bull have superior downforce and Williams have superior engine drive-ability that ended up with those two teams out-qualifying both Ferrari drivers.
“Today we knew we’d be facing a difficult qualifying, but to be honest, we were hoping for something a bit better,” said Fry. “We also knew that at this track, we wouldn’t just be fighting Red Bull, but other teams as well who, thanks to the few corners and long straights here, would give us a hard time and that proved to be the case.
“The session began in particularly high temperatures, almost 20 degrees hotter than yesterday and we struggled more than our rivals to find enough grip with both cars. From a technical point of view Red Bull, thanks to their higher level of downforce and Williams, with the better drive-ability of the Mercedes engine, were able to get more out of the tyres, which meant they were more competitive than us.
“Tomorrow, we will try and do all we can to get a good start, although this year it has not been so easy to make the most of the straights for overtaking. We will definitely have to keep an eye on tyre degradation, which has a bigger effect here, especially with the rears.”