Both Scuderia Ferrari drivers managed to qualify inside the top ten at Spa-Francorchamps, with Fernando Alonso fourth and Kimi Raikkonen eighth in a session hit heavily by rain. Both drivers are in positive frames of mind heading into the race on Sunday, with their upgraded car seemingly a big step forward.
Alonso was once again on top of his game, and wound up fourth on the grid. The Spaniard admitted that it was a tricky session with the conditions as they were, but felt he had a good session. He also believes the car is working well on the long runs, so is hoping for a strong race on Sunday.
“I think today’s qualifying went well, even if it wasn’t easy, because every time you went out on track, you didn’t know what conditions to expect and exactly how much grip you would find from the track surface,” reflected Alonso. “Fourth position is a great result and now I think we can expect a very interesting race. We tried various aerodynamic configurations and, if we seemed more competitive, maybe it’s because we managed to adapt better than some other teams.
“The rain certainly helped, but we also had good pace on the long run in the dry yesterday. Tomorrow, whatever the conditions, we must simply try to run a perfect race and above all make the right tyre choices. We have all new sets available and, of the two compounds, I think the Soft will be the one to use at the start and in the early part of the race. The Medium is a bit slower, but similar to the Soft in terms of degradation, so it will be a case of running it for as little time as possible in the race and to make the change at the right moment.”
Team-mate Raikkonen will start eighth on Sunday, and admitted he was relatively happy with the performance of his car but mistakes cost him the opportunity of a better grid slot. He is hoping for a stronger race on Sunday, and knows that he will have to optimise his strategy to get the best result possible on a track he has won four times on in the past.
“After lots of unforeseen incidents on Friday, this morning I was reasonably happy with the handling of my car,” admitted Raikkonen. “In the afternoon, the arrival of the rain made everything more unpredictable, the car was sliding all over the place and putting together a good lap wasn’t easy. On my last run in Q3, I tried my best, but some mistakes cost me a few places.
“Even if I’m a bit disappointed, now I want to just think about tomorrow’s race, which will be a long one, with the chance of very variable weather. I will try and make up as many places as possible and in order to do that, it will be very important to make the right decisions at the right time.”
Technical Director Pat Fry was disappointed with the gap to the Mercedes team out front, but happy with the result of qualifying for his drivers. He praised Alonso for a good lap that took him to fourth, and felt that Raikkonen would have been higher up the grid had he had clean running throughout the weekend.
“We are reasonably pleased with the outcome, even if we cannot ignore Mercedes’ performance, given that we want to get back to being in the top positions,” said Fry. “Fernando only just missed out on third place, having produced a fantastic lap. I hope he can have a good race from fourth on the grid.
“Kimi lost out a bit in all three sectors, but I believe he drove as hard as he could, even though he wound up eighth. Certainly, we can’t forget all the difficulties he experienced yesterday, because I’m sure that with a bit more track time, he could have been a bit higher up the order.
“Tomorrow’s race will be long and difficult: the forecast is for less chance of rain than today, but here at Spa, it’s impossible to be sure. The important thing is to be ready to adapt our strategy to whatever conditions we encounter.”