After his final qualifying session for Scuderia Ferrari, Kimi Räikkönen explained that the third sector proved to be the team’s downfall on Saturday evening at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Räikkönen qualified in third, directly behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel, as Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport secured their fifth front successive Yas Marina Circuit front-row lockout. The Finn ended up around six-tenths off of polesitter Lewis Hamilton and two-tenths behind Vettel.
Despite the lacking pace, Räikkönen said that there was “nothing to complain about” from a car balance perspective – noting that Ferrari could not match Mercedes or Aston Martin Red Bull Racing in the twisty final sector, comprised of 11 corners.
“It was a solid qualifying session and I think there was nothing wrong with the car today, nothing to complain about,” he said.
“In fact, it worked pretty well, we were only lacking a bit of speed especially in Sector 3. That’s where we were losing the most and it has been like that for all the weekend.
“Our competitors were probably playing around a bit in the first part of the session, then in the end the margin was bigger.”
The 39-year-old will – like the rest of the top five – start on the middle compound brought to Abu Dhabi by Pirelli Motorsport, the ultra-soft tyres. Räikkönen says that although Ferrari have conducted race simulations on the chosen compound, a race environment is very different.
“As for tomorrow, I can only say that we are going to do our best,” he added. “We will start the race on the ultra-soft tyres, which is the choice all the top teams have made.
“We hadn’t tested that kind of compound before today, and in terms of race pace we have some figures from Friday’s long runs, but practice is another story from the race itself and usually, on Sunday, the gaps close up a little bit.”
In the battle for third place in the Drivers’ Championship, Valtteri Bottas starts from second on the grid, needing a 15 point swing in his favour to move above his countryman. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sits a further three points behind Bottas, starting from sixth.