Report – 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.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2m05.591s 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2m05.819s +0.228s 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2m07.717s +2.126s 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2m07.786s +2.195s 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 2m07.911s +2.320s 6. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 2m08.049s +2.458s 7. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2m08.679s +3.088s 8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2m08.780s +3.189s 9. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2m09.178s +3.587s 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m09.776s +4.185s Q2 cut-off time: 2m09.272s Gap ** 11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 2m09.377s +2.768s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 2m09.805s +3.196s 13. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2m10.084s +3.475s 14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2m10.238s +3.629s 15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2m11.087s +4.478s 16. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2m12.470s +5.861s Q1 cut-off time: 2m11.081s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2m11.261s +4.131s 18. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 2m11.267s +4.137s 19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2m12.566s +5.436s 20. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2m13.414s +6.284s 21. Andre Lotterer Caterham-Renault 2m13.469s +6.339s 22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2m14.438s +7.308s
Kimi admits mistakes made difference: “They were quite difficult conditions and I made quite a few mistakes on the last lap. I was held up on the out-lap by a few cars, which affected the way I wanted to start the whole lap and get the tyres ready, but I just made some mistakes and didn’t get a good lap on that last run. In the wet conditions, it’s a bit more tricky to say. They were difficult conditions and I was sliding a lot, so it was quite tricky. In the dry yesterday, I had so many problems that we couldn’t really do much. This morning, [in FP3], it didn’t feel too bad – the lap probably wasn’t anything good, but the car felt quite good, so everything seems to be okay. Obviously, the wet is always wet and bit tricky, but it was not a disaster. Running [on Friday] was a bit limited by the issues on my side and, this morning, there were just two or three laps [in the dry], so not many, but I think we should be okay knowing what we should do. The weather can change a lot here – and quickly, as we have seen – so we’ll try to make the right decisions at the right time and hopefully get a good result. Obviously, the weather will be the same for everyone, and sometimes it works for you and sometimes not. Hopefully, whatever the conditions are, we’ll make the right call and get a good race. It’ll be a long race and different conditions from start to finish, so let’s see how it is.”
Kimi thinks race could be different story: “You would think here and in Monza that the Mercedes [power unit] should have more advantage, like in the beginning of the year in Bahrain. But obviously we improve things all the time and small things here and there, so it’s getting better, but the race will tell the true story. You can get a good lap time but in the race, it’s very difficult to fight when the others are faster in a straight line – even if your actual lap time can be exactly the same as them. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s been surprisingly nice not to see a massive difference. In the wet Mercedes has the best grip, but in the dry it’s been okay.”
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.”