Formula 1

Kimi Räikkönen: “Qualifying in fifth makes me happy but it’s only qualifying”

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Credit: Florent Gooden / DPPI

Kimi Räikkönen was pleased to qualify fifth for Sunday’s German Grand Prix but the veteran Finn knows points are only paid out on race day.

The Alfa Romeo Racing driver was the best of the rest behind the two Mercedes AMG Motorsport and two Red Bull Racing drivers at the Hockenheimring, with Räikkönen the first of those to capitalise on the problems for his former team Scuderia Ferrari.  The fifth-place result also gave the Hinwil-based team their best Qualifying result since the 2013 United States Grand Prix.

Räikkönen felt an even better result was possible in Qualifying, with his lap time from Q2 slightly quicker than he achieved in Q3, which would have put him ahead of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly in the final reckoning.

“Qualifying in fifth makes me happy but it’s only qualifying, the race is tomorrow,” admitted Räikkönen.  “We made a few gains through other people’s misfortunes, but in the end we still had to put in the laps when it counted and we did.

“The car has been pretty good today and I think we could have been a bit faster in Q3: maybe fourth place was within reach, but that’s racing.”

Räikkönen says it is difficult to know whether Alfa Romeo has the pace to be a factor on Sunday, but a lot will depend on the weather conditions that present themselves, with rain forecasted for the race.

“It’s very difficult to read into our race pace from yesterday as the conditions have changed a lot and could be even different tomorrow,” said the Finn.  “We have to see if the rain comes and figure out the weather the best we can.

“It will be hard to race against the big teams; we’ll just take today’s result as it is, give everything tomorrow and see where we end up.”

Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi will start the race in eleventh after missing out on joining Räikkönen in Q3 by just 0.010 seconds, but the Italian remains confident that he can move forward and secure only his second top ten result of the season on Sunday.

“It was a bit frustrating to miss out on Q3 for just a hundredth of a second,” said Giovinazzi.  “We start from just outside the top ten, but tomorrow is the important day and I am confident we can get to the points.

“We wanted more but if we have a good start and a good strategy we can be in that fight. Nobody can predict what weather we’ll have tomorrow and if it starts to rain anything can happen. Having both cars in the top ten is the objective but the key is to continue moving forward.”

Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur was pleased with the Qualifying performance from the team but like his lead driver Räikkönen, he knows points are only paid out on Sunday, so the focus must remain on performing when it matters on race day.

“Placing a car on the third row is a positive result but points are not given on Saturday, so we still need to focus on our job,” insisted Vasseur.  “We have looked competitive all weekend so far and we are pleased with today’s result.

“Kimi looked quick from Q1 and delivered a good lap in his only attempt in Q3. It was a pity Antonio missed out on the top ten for such a small margin, but he’s still in a good position to have a strong race.

“The weather will be a big variable tomorrow: finding the right strategy will be crucial especially should the rain come.”

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