Monaco GP - More uncertainty tomorrow
Today's performance from Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro perfectly illustrates the unpredictable nature of rapid driving around a street circuit, further complicated today by the ever present threat of rain, rain that had actually fallen heavily in the morning. This meant it was even harder than usual to judge the level of grip on offer or when to go out on track, in an effort to pull two elements together, namely a clear track with no traffic and the best possible conditions.
In the end one Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa managed to emerge at the end of the session with a very positive third place, but for Kimi Raikkonen the day did not go so well as the unforgiving barriers at the Swimming Pool claimed a steering arm and so he starts way down on the eighth row of the grid, having failed to get into the final part of qualifying. It was evidently not a great day for Finns, as in fifteenth spot alongside him is the Renault of fellow countryman, Heikki Kovalainen.
This is the first time that an F2007 has failed to get onto the front row of the grid this year and the pole man today is reigning world champion, Fernando Alonso. Making it an all-McLaren-Mercedes front row, Lewis Hamilton joins his team-mate in second place. Alongside Felipe is a man who always seems to qualify well at this track, Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault, with fifth spot going to the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg, sharing Row 3 with Mark Webber in the Red Bull Renault.
A long race, a high chance of seeing the Safety Car, the risk of getting stuck in traffic and no run-off areas: if all these difficulties were not enough, tomorrow's 72 lap race is also under threat of more bad weather. Hard to say if that will help or hinder the efforts of our two drivers.
Kimi said, "There's little to say after this qualifying session. I was on my first run with soft tyres when, coming out of the Swimming Pool Chicane, I hit the barrier with the right front wheel. At first it seemed that everything was alright, but when I got to Rascasse, the car would not make the turn. I managed to get back to the pits and the mechanics tried to fix the car but we realized it could not be done in time. Here, the very slightest error costs you dear and it is a real shame because I think I could have fought for pole position. However, I will start from the eighth row so I am expecting a very tough race, but I will do all I can to get a good result for the team."
Jean Todt also said, "As usual, qualifying was very close, made even more uncertain this time by the changing weather. On this unique track, starting from the front row is very important for the final result and for the first time this season, neither of our cars is there. Kimi touched the barrier at the Swimming Pool and he had to pit with a damaged car and so was unable to take part in the final part of the session. He will start from sixteenth spot which will obviously make for a very complicated race. For his part, Felipe did a perfect final lap, to take third place. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts he was unable to get ahead of our closest rivals. The outcome tomorrow will be decided by the usual factors - strategy, reliability, the start, team work and the efforts of the drivers, as well as the performance of the tyres. There will be a further variable, linked to the weather which can make things even more uncertain."
Luca Baldisserri commented, "Free practice in the wet and qualifying in the dry: it's the worst possible combination for preparing as well as possible for a vital session on a track like this. We are very disappointed for Kimi who touched the barrier at the exit to the Swimming Pool, breaking a steering arm on the front right wheel. We tried to repair the damage but there was not enough time to do so before the end of Q2. Felipe did an extraordinary lap, especially in the final sector which helped him secure third place. Clearly, not knowing what fuel loads our main rivals have on board it is hard to predict what sort of result we can expect from Felipe, while it is equally obvious that Kimi has a long climb through the field ahead of him. We think we will be competitive and we will do our utmost to bring home as many points as possible."