Report – Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will start the first race of the year from the second and third rows of the grid. Dominating today’s qualifying at Melbourne’s Albert Park was the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton (1.26.327,) with the top three completed by the Englishman’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg (1.26.921) and Felipe Massa for Williams (1.27.718.). Vettel was fourth in his SF15-T, posting a 1.27.757, followed by Raikkonen who did a 1.27.790.
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m28.329s||2.002s|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m28.510s||2.183s|
|12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m28.868s||-|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.070s||-|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.208s||-|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m29.209s||-|
Kimi Raikkonen: “On my quick lap, I lost around three tenths at turn 3 and then I made a couple of mistakes in the next two corners. We knew we couldn’t fight the Mercedes, at least not in today’s qualifying, but third place on the grid was possible. In any case, during free practice, we saw that our long runs are pretty good, so we can be confident of having a good race. All we need to do is get a good start and then give it our best, but I think we can fight for a good position. As a team, we are working well together and we have a pretty clear picture of the situation. We know we are quick, but we need to improve in all sectors and, as for myself, I have to drive better.”
Ferrari duo say mistakes hampered Q3 lap Kimi: “I had quite a big mistake, three tenths in corner three, and messed it up the next two corners. The rest of the lap was pretty good and I caught up with the laptime, but it was pretty much done. We should have been in P3 but that is how it is. And probably we would have been one second behind Mercedes. We knew we cannot fight with them [Mercedes] in qualifying, but yesterday we had pretty good long run. Tomorrow the weather plays a big part, but like last year we are more confident with the race pace and this year we improve a lot overall. So it is a bit disappointing to have a mistake and start in P5, but I think we can still do a good race.”
Vettel, who lined up fourth, thought he should have done a better job on his first set of tyres in Q3. “Felipe nailed the lap. I think it was in reach on the first set, and ideally it should have been a bit quicker, but it wasn’t. That was down to me. The second shot in terms of strategy we could have done things differently, but all in all it was a very good result to have both cars in the top five.”
Report – Sebastian Vettel was second fastest in the third free practice for the Australian Grand Prix, the final session before the all-important qualifying. Vettel posted a 1.28.563 to split the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton (1.27.867) and Nico Rosberg (1.28.821.) In the other SF15-T, Kimi Raikkonen was sixth with a 1.29.017, as he and his team-mated worked on a qualifying set-up. Both Ferrari men completed 13 laps, running two sets of Medium tyres and one set of Softs.
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m29.869s||2.002s||19|
|11||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m29.952s||2.085s||16|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.741s||2.874s||14|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.993s||3.126s||17|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.185s||3.318s||10|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m32.830s||4.963s||6|
Report – There will be an all-Ferrari fifth row on the grid for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when it gets underway at 17h00 (14h00 CET) at the Yas Marina track. Kimi Raikkonen will start from ninth, having qualified around four tenths faster than tenth placed team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Q1 went off smoothly: both drivers did a first run on the Softs, before quickly switching to the Supersofts, for Kimi to go tenth and Fernando twelfth. Life got more complicated in Q2, especially for Raikkonen, who had to use an extra set of Supersoft tyres and only just made it through to the next stage, with a heart-stopping lap in the dying moments of the session. Alonso went through in seventh spot.
In Q3, Raikkonen was only able to make one run, while the others all did two. The Finn’s best lap was a 1.42.236. Alonso’s first run produced a 1.42.866, but he was unable to improve on his next set, when he made a mistake.
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.267s||0.787s|
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.893s||1.413s|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m41.908s||1.428s|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m42.207s||1.727s|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.239s||1.759s|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.384s||1.904s|
Kimi ‘bit on the edge’ – “It was a bit better in qualifying than in the final practice but it’s still difficult. It feels fine in one place and then the rear is a bit loose in odd places and sometimes a bit tricky with the front end and it keeps changing from corner to corner. It’s a bit on edge all the time, so not ideal. Not exactly what you want but it’s what it is. We know where the issues are and obviously I’m pretty sure next year we’ll have a much stronger package overall and then you get rid of many issues. We are kind of stuck in an area where you try to fix certain things with the set-up but then you create another problem. It’s a bit like you fix one but take another issue with it. We’ll see how we can do tomorrow, hopefully we can have a strong race and we will try to do our best.”
Asked if beating Alonso in qualifying was any satisfaction after being outqualified in the last 13 races, Raikkonen said the actual grid positions make it redundant.
“Not really when we’re fighting around ninth, tenth position, eighth position. In my mind, no, because it’s not where we want to be and where we should be. When you are in the front fighting there in the top positions then yes it’s more nice. Obviously people outside look but for me it doesn’t really make a difference.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Even before we arrived in Yas Marina, we knew this track would not favour our car and all weekend, we never managed to find a set-up that worked well at every corner. Today, in qualifying, I felt more comfortable, but it wasn’t simple putting a good lap together. I was always on the limit and on some parts of the track the car worked well and in others it tended to slide. Tomorrow it will be a difficult race, but as always, we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible for the team.”
Pat Fry: “Given our performance in yesterday’s free practice, we knew we were facing a complex weekend and, unfortunately, today’s qualifying turned out to be particularly trying. The gap to our competitors is more evident from the second to third sectors where what counts is mainly speed and driveability, two areas we are working on a lot as we know we need to improve. In the opening laps of Q1 we had various problems, especially on Fernando’s car, some down to traffic management, others linked to technical parameters after we changed the power unit. As the sessions went on, track conditions improved significantly and we tried to get the most out of our package. Starting from the fifth row means we will have to attack and so the entire team has to be absolutely concentrated in order to bring home as many points as possible.”
Report – Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen will start tomorrow’s 71 lap Brazilian Grand Prix from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid, in eighth and tenth places respectively. Like the previous three sessions, this fourth one took place in the dry, as the threat of rain didn’t materialize. Q1 went off smoothly for Kimi and Fernando, who went through to the next stage in seventh and tenth places, although they immediately had to make use of the Soft tyres. The fight was tighter in Q2, with the Scuderia drivers having to use their remaining sets of the softer of the two compounds. This time, they got to Q3, again in seventh and tenth places. In Q3, they were only able to do one run each, with Fernando posting a 1.10.977 and Kimi a 1.11.099.
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m10.938s||0.915s|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m11.075s||1.052s|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m11.976s||-|
|15||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m12.040s||-|
|17||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||-||-|
|18||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.076s||-|
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.”
Raikkonen – Better feeling with car: “Not really new parts but it’s just different things that we’ve been running or not been running some things that we’ve had available. It’s not new designs, it’s just trying to run the car differently. It’s been pretty good all weekend. We finished tenth but there were no major issues. I think we were close to our maximum speed unfortunately. Maybe a couple of tenths could have been found but it’s not like something is wrong. It’s been pleasant to drive the car all weekend so that’s a nice thing. Obviously finishing tenth is a different story but we definitely have been making some progress on that side. We have to see how it is in the race because we couldn’t do the long run yesterday with all the red flags but it’s been going in the right direction, for sure. New cars are always different. We tried many things this year in races and it hasn’t worked out and has probably cost us some points, but I want to try things and find out. It’s been such a difficult year anyhow that I would rather try things and if it doesn’t work I’ll pay the price for it, that’s fine. Next year will be different because you have a new car. It’s a different story. I’m sure it will be a lot better car, a lot better package from what we have learned from here. We can improve for sure and like I said this weekend the car has been behaving pretty nicely. There are areas we have to improve, that’s for sure. Yes there was some understeer in qualifying but I don’t think you’re going to get the car right for every lap and unfortunately you make mistakes when you push for the limit. So it’s been a better feeling for sure.”