Kimi Räikkönen admitted it came as a surprise to struggle as much as he did during Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday evening, with the Finn only able to set the fifth fastest time in Q3.
Scuderia Ferrari had been expected to dominate the session after being strong in final practice earlier in the day, but with conditions under the lights different to those seen in that afternoon session, both Räikkönen and team-mate Sebastian Vettel found themselves unable to qualify on the front row of the grid.
Räikkönen, who will leave Ferrari to join the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in 2019, knows fifth on the grid is not great for him this weekend, which he attributes to failing to get his Pirelli tyres to work as well as he would have hoped when it mattered, ending as he did 0.779 seconds behind polesitter Lewis Hamilton.
“This qualifying was a bit more tricky than we expected,” said Räikkönen. “In general, we struggled to ‘switch on’ the tyres straightaway and make them work as easily as it had been all weekend; so I was a bit surprised.
“Things can change quickly from practice to qualifying, that’s why there’s no reason to look at the lap times in practice, especially in places like this. The end result obviously is not great; this is the kind of circuit where if you get everything right your lap can be very good, but if you have some difficulties, the time difference gets big very quickly.”
Looking ahead to the race, he hopes he and his team can make the right calls in order to move forward and claim what would be his seventh top three finish in eight races.
“Tomorrow will be a long day, everybody seems to be quite close to each other; it will be a long, tough and hectic race, and usually many things happen here,” said the Finn.
“We’ll try to make the right decisions and the right calls.”