Kimi Räikkönen: “We’ll just wait and see what happens on Sunday – it will be close”

by Paul Hensby

Kimi Räikkönen felt it was a straightforward practice day on Friday, even if there was more running than usual thanks to the cancellation of Saturday’s running with typhoon Hagibis on its way to Japan.

The Alfa Romeo Racing driver ended twelfth in the morning session at the Suzuka International Racing Course, completing twenty-seven laps, and improved to eleventh in the afternoon, with the Finn running twenty-nine more laps.

Räikkönen feels there is some pace to be found and progress to be made between practice and Sunday morning’s rescheduled Qualifying session, with the Finn aiming for a place inside the top ten on the grid.

“It was a fairly straightforward Friday for me,” said Räikkönen.  “We did a bit more running than we originally planned to make up for the lack of FP3 tomorrow, but in the end the change of plans did not affect us much.

“We’re just outside the top ten and the gaps are very small. We will try and find some more performance with the engineers, as you can always make some progress after practice, but it’s impossible to say where we’ll be come qualifying.

“We’ll just wait and see what happens on Sunday – it will be close.”

Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi lost most of the morning session thanks to a hydraulic leak, with the Italian ending the session at the bottom of the time sheets as a result.  However, he got to within two-tenths of a second of Räikkönen in the afternoon, albeit down in fifteenth position.

2019 marks Giovinazzi’s first Japanese Grand Prix and maiden running at Suzuka, but he feels the track is the best one he has ran on so far during his Formula 1 career.  However, he is bemoaning the cancellation of all of Saturday’s running thanks to the oncoming typhoon as he continues to learn more about nailing the lap around Formula 1’s only figure-of-eight track.

“We lost most of the running in FP1 due to a hydraulic leak, which is never the best way to start a weekend,” said Giovinazzi.  “Suzuka is a new track for me and it’s quite a challenging one, so it would have been important to have as many laps as possible: at least we tried to make up for the lost time in the afternoon, and we had some good mileage in FP2.

“Even after only two sessions, I can say Suzuka is the best track I ran on in F1 so far. Unfortunately, the weather means we’ll sit the day out tomorrow and miss FP3, which doesn’t make my weekend any easier. In any case, we will push to find the best setup tonight and get a good result in both qualifying and the race on Sunday.”

A hydraulic leak forced Antonio Giovinazzi to miss most of first practice at Suzuka – Credit: Florent Gooden / DPPI

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