Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen described qualifying for Formula 1’s Mexican Grand Prix as “not the easiest,” as the 2007 world champion could only manage sixth on the grid.
Räikkönen, who ended a 113 race long win drought last time out in the United States, finished the slowest of the ‘Class A’ runners, with his lap time of 1m15.330 nearly four-tenths slower than team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in fourth.
The Finn will start the race on the more durable Ultrasoft compound, thus avoiding the Hypersoft tyre which proved unsuitable for the race during Friday practice with its excessive wear and loss of grip.
“For sure it was not the easiest qualifying, but this is how it goes sometimes,” explained Räikkönen, who will leave Ferrari and join the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team at the end of the season.
“Today, the overall feeling with the car was better than yesterday; we improved and that’s a positive fact.”
Track temperature proved to be a major talking point during Friday practice, as the high temperature was not allowing drivers to find a comfortable balance with their cars or complete race simulations.
However, overnight rain in Mexico cooled the temperatures, thus bringing Ferrari closer to the top of the timing sheets; the team having struggled for pace on Friday.
“In the cooler conditions of this morning, it seemed much easier,” Räikkönen said, acknowledging the change in conditions.
“In qualifying, some laps were pretty good in some places and on the next one, they were better in other places, so it was hard to put the lap together. It is going to be a long and difficult race for sure.”
The run to Turn 1 at the Autodromo Hermanoes Rodriguez is 900m, the longest on the F1 calendar, and therefore slipstreaming will be an important factor at the start of the race.
All six cars from the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Ferrari teams will start on the less grippy ultrasoft compound, while the rest of the top 10 will begin on the gripper hypersoft rubber.
At the Turn 1/2/3 complex in the 2017 race, Max Verstappen muscled his way past polesitter Vettel, who made contact with Lewis Hamilton, ruining both drivers races, and Räikkönen is wary of may happen.
“There’s a long run down the straight to the first corner; we’ll try to make a good start and stay out of any issue,” he explained.
“The first corner is usually quite hectic and tight: if you manage to get a good tow, it makes a massive difference. Then we’ll see what happens in the race . Tyre management will be the key.”