Fernando Alonso was pleased with his performance...
Spa-Francorchamps – At 2pm tomorrow, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will start the Belgian Grand Prix from the second and fourth rows, after the Spaniard was fourth fastest in qualifying, 69 thousandths off third placed Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull,) with the Finn in eighth spot on the grid.
Rain affected qualifying, having fallen before the start and then intermittently during the session. Neither Ferrari man had any trouble in Q1, getting through with Kimi sixth and Alonso ninth. Q2 also went smoothly, with Fernando making the cut to Q3 in third place, with Kimi fifth. In the top-ten shoot-out, the sun reappeared and the track gradually dried out.
For the eleventh time in his career, Nico Rosberg took pole in 2.05.591, ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Behind Vettel and Fernando (2.07.786,) the third row features Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Valtteri Bottas (Williams.) Row 4 sees Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) on the inside of Kimi who stopped the clocks in 2.08.780. Behind them are Felipe Massa (Williams) and Jenson Button (McLaren.)
The two Ferrari F14 Ts will start tomorrow’s twelfth round of the World Championship from the second and fourth rows of the grid and fourth placed Fernando Alonso admitted that the rain which, almost inevitably affected qualifying, helped him today. The Spaniard was pleased with his performance and so he should be, because his lap time was only fractionally slower than third placed Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
However, looking at the bigger picture, the two Mercedes were once again in a class of their own and, with the very long lap here, their advantage looks even bigger than elsewhere. Pole man Nico Rosberg put in a lap over 2 seconds faster than Vettel, with second placed Lewis Hamilton just under three tenths slower than his team-mate.
The rain certainly helped, but we also had good pace on the long run in the dry yesterday.
On paper therefore, especially as the race should more than likely be run in the dry, one could expect the silver cars to clear off into the distance. However, this is Spa and anything can and usually does happen. Add in Fernando’s fierce determination and his reputation for breathtaking opening laps and there is a good chance the Ferrari fans in the forests will have something to cheer about, come the end of the 44 laps.
The good news on Kimi’s side of the garage is that in this morning’s dry FP3 he was happy with the car. This afternoon, but for a few little driving mistakes, possibly the lingering effect of not having a trouble-free Friday, he might have been higher up the order than eighth. The two Prancing Horse runners are separated on the grid by three different cars; the Red Bull of fifth placed Daniel Ricciardo, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen.
Fernando Alonso: “I think today’s qualifying went well, even if it wasn’t easy, because every time you went out on track, you didn’t know what conditions to expect and exactly how much grip you would find from the track surface. Fourth position is a great result and now I think we can expect a very interesting race. We tried various aerodynamic configurations and, if we seemed more competitive, maybe it’s because we managed to adapt better than some other teams. The rain certainly helped, but we also had good pace on the long run in the dry yesterday. Tomorrow, whatever the conditions, we must simply try to run a perfect race and above all make the right tyre choices. We have all new sets available and, of the two compounds, I think the Soft will be the one to use at the start and in the early part of the race. The Medium is a bit slower, but similar to the Soft in terms of degradation, so it will be a case of running it for as little time as possible in the race and to make the change at the right moment.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “After lots of unforeseen incidents on Friday, this morning I was reasonably happy with the handling of my car. In the afternoon, the arrival of the rain made everything more unpredictable, the car was sliding all over the place and putting together a good lap wasn’t easy. On my last run in Q3, I tried my best, but some mistakes cost me a few places. Even if I’m a bit disappointed, now I want to just think about tomorrow’s race, which will be a long one, with the chance of very variable weather. I will try and make up as many places as possible and in order to do that, it will be very important to make the right decisions at the right time.”
Pat Fry: “We are reasonably pleased with the outcome, even if we cannot ignore Mercedes’ performance, given that we want to get back to being in the top positions. Fernando only just missed out on third place, having produced a fantastic lap. I hope he can have a good race from fourth on the grid. Kimi lost out a bit in all three sectors, but I believe he drove as hard as he could, even though he wound up eighth. Certainly, we can’t forget all the difficulties he experienced yesterday, because I’m sure that with a bit more track time, he could have been a bit higher up the order. Tomorrow’s race will be long and difficult: the forecast is for less chance of rain than today, but here at Spa, it’s impossible to be sure. The important thing is to be ready to adapt our strategy to whatever conditions we encounter.”