Alfa Romeo Racing was left to rue after a difficult qualifying which saw Antonio Giovinazzi line up in sixteenth and Kimi Räikkönen in seventeenth after Valtteri Bottas‘s pre-race penalty was applied.
Despite a singe Q3 appearance from Räikkönen last time out in Brazil, the final qualifying of the season saw Alfa struggle with tyre temperatures, with the Alfas only beating the Williams pair for the ninth row of the grid.
2012 winner Räikkönen complained of a lack of grip as the reasoning for his early Q1 exit as he was outqualified by his rookie teammate for the eighth time this season, with the Finn now hopeful that he can salvage a good result in the final race of the season.
“It’s a disappointing result as we were hoping to get something more out of qualifying. The car hasn’t lost much speed compared to last time out in Brazil, but we couldn’t find the grip we needed over a single lap.
“Hopefully this should be easier over a race distance, so we can hope to make progress in the race. Overtaking is not easy here, especially from where we start, but we are going to give it a good try.”
Giovinazzi meanwhile believes that he will have a mountain to climb in order to secure points in the final race of his maiden F1 season.
“The car felt pretty good but we lacked something today. It’s a pity as our race pace didn’t look bad, so a good starting position would have helped.
“Instead, tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge: we need a good start and to make the right strategy calls if we want to make up some places and get back in the fight.”
Team principal Frédéric Vasseur was incredibly disappointed to have seen both of the Alfa cars fail to secure a top 10 start in what has been a very disappointing second half of the season for the Swiss-based team.
“After such a positive weekend in Brazil, to lose two cars in Q1 falls definitely short of our expectations. We struggled to bring the tyres to the right temperature window today and that affected the grip we had on track.
“We have a busy night ahead trying to understand the causes for this and to turn our fortunes around in the race. We are confident in our race pace, but starting towards the back means we will have a fight ahead of us to get back into the points tomorrow.”