Fernando Alonso:** “Today’s result encapsulates the state of play this weekend and it’s more or less what we expected..."
Monaco – Scuderia Ferrari has set up camp on Row 3 of the grid for tomorrow’s Monaco GP. Fernando Alonso qualified fifth, one place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. While the Spaniard had a “glass half full” attitude to the result, pleased with signs of improvement from the F14 T and the fact they outpaced teams that have been ahead of the Prancing Horse in recent races, the Finn went for the “glass half empty” approach, unhappy that he still was not completely at his ease in the car and that the tyres were taking too long to warm up.
Mercedes continued it’s clean sweep of pole positions, with Nico Rosberg, who won here from pole last year, taking the number one slot for the second time this year. Alongside him is team-mate and series leader Lewis Hamilton, the Englishman unable to do a quick last lap as the German had actually brought out the yellow flags, having gone off at Mirabeau. Daniel Ricciardo again outpaced his world champion team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, as the Red Bull’s secured the second row.
If the front of the grid reminds one of Noah’s Ark with it’s two-by-two formation, at least the deluge that prompted the building of the famous boat is unlike to be a factor tomorrow, as the sun is due to shine on the sixth round of the world championship. However, whatever the conditions, the race around the narrow streets is always a long and tough one, so much will depend on what happens in the first couple of hundred metres after the start. There is not much that can be done on the strategy front as a one stop has been the signature of this race for a few years now over the 78 laps.
Fernando Alonso: “Today’s result encapsulates the state of play this weekend and it’s more or less what we expected, but I don’t think it went badly, because we managed to stay ahead of rivals who have been front runners so far, such as Williams and Force India and, most importantly, we are closer to the Red Bulls. We have made more changes than usual here, because we were suffering with understeer and we had some problems under braking and the car has improved a lot. Compared to what we expected, the tyres seem too hard and we are struggling a lot to get them up to temperature. If the race is run in the dry tomorrow, then it will be an endurance race to see who can stay out on track the longest. However, if it was to rain, as has been suggested, then just getting to the finish will already be a good result, because as we saw on Thursday from the few laps we did, it’s really on the limit, like sliding around on ice.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “I’m not happy with this qualifying, because even though we worked hard on the set-up, making several changes, my feeling with the car didn’t improve much. Right from Thursday I had to fight to find the best solution and the time lost during the second free practice session certainly didn’t help. On top of that, we are not able to make the tyres work well here and in that situation, it’s not easy to put together a good lap, especially on a track where you don’t get a second chance. Sixth place is not ideal, but neither is it a disaster and tomorrow we will do our best to get the most out of it all.”
Pat Fry: “Finding the right window to put in the quick laps and avoid traffic is always a crucial aspect of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, especially in Q1 and Q2. Here, the tyres are taking a few more laps to be at their best and this slightly complicated the process, but luckily we didn’t have any major problems with either car. The gap has come down to the Red Bulls and also to Mercedes, but the result hasn’t changed since the previous races. In any case, both Fernando and Kimi got the most out of the F14 T, which continues to improve step by step. It will be a long and demanding race tomorrow for the whole team, with the thousands of variables this Grand Prix can throw up. The chance of rain is only slight, but nevertheless we want to be prepared to tackle both scenarios to give our drivers the best chance of bringing home as many points as possible.”