Fourth and fifth rows for Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
Interlagos -The picture of today’s qualifying pretty much mirrored the one we have seen over all previous 17 Grands Prix weekends this year, with Mercedes in a class of its own, usually followed by Williams, while a close-knit group of teams battled it out for Rows 3 to 5 on the grid.
Today, the Prancing Horse cars secured places on the fourth and fifth rows, with Fernando Alonso eighth fastest in Q3, while Kimi Raikkonen was tenth. It should be pointed out that the Scuderia Ferrari drivers were the only ones who made just a single run in the final top ten shoot out, thus saving a set of tyres for tomorrow. Whether they get to use them or not will depend on the weather, as the threat of rain has been ever-present this weekend, even if so far, no rain tyres have been required.
As usual we will give it our all to finish in front of our competitors and score points in the Constructors’ championship.
Nico Rosberg today took his tenth pole, to become the first winner of the new FIA Pole Position trophy for the most number one grid slots in a season.
Rain would certainly be welcome for the eighteenth round of the world championship, as a wet track reduces the advantage of having the most powerful engine and it would allow our two world champions to show off their skills. But even in the dry, the Jose Carlos Pace circuit usually throws up some surprises.
When all the numbers are pushed through the strategy programmes, a three stopper comes out as the fastest route to the flag in the dry. However, the very short lap distance means traffic is a problem and only the quickest cars will consider making so many tyre changes, with the Soft tyre only being used at the start, before completing the race on the Mediums. So a two stop is the more likely route, but if the rain comes then all bets are off!
Fernando Alonso: “Today’s result more or less reflects the way the whole weekend has gone, even if here, a tenth of a second can be the difference between fifth and tenth places. Both compounds worked very well, but I’m sure graining and degradation will give us a hard time tomorrow. It will be a long race and, apart from reliability, the key factor will be tyre management. As usual we will give it our all to finish in front of our competitors and score points in the Constructors’ championship.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This weekend, I’ve had a better feeling in the car and, in general, I’ve had no major problems while I also felt more comfortable with the front end. We lacked speed today and even though this was our quickest lap of the weekend, it was not enough to finish higher up the grid. Obviously, I’m a bit disappointed to be tenth and, without having done a race simulation yesterday, we are a bit in the dark like most teams. However, what counts is that finally I feel much more comfortable at the wheel, which means we are making progress.”
Pat Fry: “Qualifying was very tight for us, as it was for Red Bull and McLaren, while yet again in Interlagos, Williams and Mercedes proved to have the best package. That was clear from Q2, when the gaps were very close from fifth to tenth places, with the six drivers split by just one tenth. Kimi and Fernando made no mistakes and, even with these grid positions, we will try and exploit any opportunity tomorrow. The weather forecast is still uncertain and usually it’s difficult to predict here. It will be interesting to see how the tyres perform, given the little long run data we got yesterday because of the numerous red flags. Now we will work on preparing for any conditions, aware that apart from performance, reliability will also play a key role.”