Brazilian GP - Qualifying
Raikkonen: 5° 1.20.168, 9 laps
Chassis: K. Raikkonen 279
Weather: air temperature 17 °C, track temperature 18 °C.
Saturday’s qualifying session was the longest in the history of Formula 1, as red flags and Race Control decisions to delay it at times, to wait for safer track conditions meant it ended at around 16.45, two and three quarter hours after it began. The rain was at its worst in Q1 and conditions meant cars were aquaplaning down the straights and losing control in the corners. Unfortunately, one of the victims was Giancarlo Fisichella, who was left stranded out on track. He lost control on the treacherously wet surface and in his attempt to control the spin, accidentally hit the engine cut out switch. So, although his car was undamaged, his session was over and he starts on the back row in twentieth place.
Kimi Raikkonen however, produced another great drive, given the overall competitivity of the F60 compared to the quicker cars in the field, to make it through to Q3, securing fifth place on the third row of the grid. Maintaining concentration, staying calm and adapting to the changeable conditions – the track gradually started drying out towards the end – were the key factors for the Finnish driver and the Scuderia crew in the garage.
Only in Q3 did conditions improve enough for the top ten cars to fight it out using Bridgestone’s Intermediate tyres. Actually, Kimi would have preferred a bit more rain, as he felt more comfortable running the Extreme wets. There was no need to look at the timing screens to see who had set the fastest time, as the information came from the crowd, as local favourite, Rubens Barrichello gave his fellow Paulistas a great reward for sitting in the pouring rain for so long. Lining up alongside him on the front row will be Mark Webber in the Red Bull. A last minute charge saw Adrian Sutil secure third place for Force India, just ahead of the Toyota of Jarno Trulli. There are two Ferrari engines on row three, as Kimi shares it with the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi.
Kimi will be targeting a good haul of points, as Ferrari attempts to maintain its third place in the Constructors’ classification. That task will be helped by the fact that closest rivals, McLaren did not have the best of days, with Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton qualifying down in 18th and 19th places.
Kimi Raikkonen: “Overall, I’m pleased with this result. On the extreme wet tyres, we were very competitive and I actually think that if the conditions had stayed bad enough for these tyres, I could have done better than fifth place. However, on the intermediate tyres the car was no longer as easy to drive, because it is harder to get them working at their best. If it rains tomorrow, it will be very tough, because here, you see almost nothing if you are behind another car and the conditions become really difficult. I think that today, it was the right decision to delay qualifying: at least it meant we were able to drive in acceptable conditions, rather than just trying to stay on the track. The F60 worked well: we know we lack grip, but this is the problem we have carried with us since the start of the season.”
Chris Dyer: “A bitter sweet qualifying for us. Once again, Kimi produced a fantastic performance to take a good fifth place, while Giancarlo, having felt comfortable in the wet this morning, was unfortunate in that his spin occurred when track conditions were at their worst. We have gone for a strategy choice that should allow us to have a good race whatever the weather. Well done to the team who remained concentrated throughout the entire qualifying session.”