Chinese GP - Front row starting position for Kimi
Qualifying for the penultimate Grand Prix of the season has continued the theme we have seen all year, with the top two rows of the grid featuring the same four cars in different orders. For example, just one week ago in the shadow of Mount Fuji, the top four were Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa. Today, championship leader Lewis, has taken his second consecutive pole position, but following him come the two Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen on the front row in second place and Felipe Massa on the inside of row 2, alongside Fernando Alonso. While there are few surprises as far as this quartet is concerned, seeing the Red Bull-Renault in fifth place courtesy of David Coulthard and the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher in sixth spot is more unusual.
The weather has already played its part today, with strong cross winds affecting the handling of the cars. This wind is the first sign of what is supposed to be a typhoon heading towards the Shanghai area. However, there is confusion over exactly when this might occur, depending on which forecast one looks at. The general consensus is that it is highly likely there could be another wet race and one only needs to look back to Mount Fuji a week ago to recall how confusing this could make matters tomorrow afternoon.
"Of course it would have been better to be on pole, but all things considered, second place is a good result, especially when you consider the uncertainty about how much fuel those in the top ten are running," said Kimi after qualifying. "I am very happy with the handling of the car this weekend: we have shown we are competitive in all conditions and I think that should be the same even if it rains, which seems likely. I am confident. We know the situation in the championship is pretty compromised but I will do my all to try and win."
Jean Todt said, "Right from the start of the weekend, we have seen a competitive Ferrari and also in today's qualifying we had a confirmation of that, with one car on the front row and the other on the second, with Kimi in second place and Felipe third. The weather forecast predicts a strong chance of rain, which makes it ever harder to make predictions and introduces an additional one to those that usually decide the result, which are strategy, reliability and the performance of the team and drivers. For our part, we will do our best to win this race, run in a country which is becoming ever more important for Ferrari in commercial terms. We can count on two fantastic drivers, cutting edge technical partners, I'm thinking for example of the work Shell has put in to developing the V-Power fuel and commercial partners who guarantee us an essential support, such as Philip Morris. We want to win to please our fans, who have always supported us both in the good times and the bad."
Luca Baldisserri also said, "It was a closely contested qualifying, with four drivers all capable of taking pole. The car confirmed it is competitive on this track, which was already evident yesterday. Both Kimi and Felipe pushed to the limit to be in front and missed out by very little. I think we can win, whatever the weather tomorrow. At Fuji we saw we were also competitive in the wet even if our race was compromised right from the start."