For the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2010, both Ferrari drivers were eliminated from qualifying at the first hurdle after the mixed conditions saw both Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Finn Kimi Raikkonen struggle, only managing to out-qualify the two Caterham’s.
Alonso made a mistake in qualifying that saw him end the session nineteenth, which becomes sixteenth after Max Chilton, Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez were all handed penalties ahead of him. He was obviously disappointed with the lowly grid slot but knows wet qualifying is always a lottery, and he will be going all out to get a good result on Sunday.
“When it rains in qualifying it’s always a lottery, it can go well or it can go badly,” said Alonso. “Most of all, it’s easy to make mistakes. At complicated moments like this, you need to fit the right tyres at the right time, but luck definitely plays a part. I think if we had fitted the Mediums thirty seconds earlier or later, with a dry track, things could have gone differently.
“In the race tomorrow, we will try and make up as much ground as possible. Yesterday, in the dry, we had a strong pace and even in the wet, as we saw on the first lap in Q1, it seems quite good. Mixed conditions might help us, but here it’s impossible to know now what the weather will do tomorrow. One thing for sure, is that starting so far back, we will see a lot of action.”
Team-mate Raikkonen was twentieth fastest in qualifying but will start eighteenth once the penalties to Maldonado and Gutierrez were enforced. He confessed that he did not expect to be so far down the grid regardless of the weather. The Finn hopes to have a good race on Sunday and hopes to break into the points.
“We knew the changeable weather would make this qualifying very unpredictable, but I definitely didn’t expect this sort of result,” said Raikkonen. “On my first run, I did four laps on Intermediate tyres because the track was still wet, but then when it stopped raining we decided to switch to slicks. On the first part of the track, the conditions were acceptable, but in the second sector, it began raining again and this prevented us from setting a good enough time to get into Q2.
“Tomorrow, it won’t be easy moving up the order, but we will do our best to make up ground, also because today I had a better feeling than yesterday and I see no reason why I shouldn’t try and have a good race.”
Technical Director Pat Fry was disappointed with the result of qualifying, and knows the lowly grid slots will make it difficult to score points, but the team will attack from the lights until the chequered flag to ensure the best possible result for both drivers.
“Today’s qualifying result is bitterly disappointing and it means we will have an uphill struggle tomorrow, with a plan to attack right from the first to the last lap,” said Fry. “In the opening minutes of Q1 the track conditions were mixed, which is the worst thing possible, because at some points there was a lot of water while other parts of the circuit were drying and some were even completely dry.
“It was impossible to improve on the Intermediates because of graining and the switch to slicks definitely complicated matters for the drivers as there was so little grip. When the lap times fell as the track began to dry, we fitted the Mediums, as in fact did everyone else, but the rain returned and that meant we were unable to make it through to the next part of qualifying. Now, our aim in tomorrow’s race is to finish in the points, trying to make the most of the new sets of tyres we have.”