Malaysia 2010 – that was the last time neither Ferrari made it past Q1. A gap of four years doesn’t make today’s result any less disappointing, nor does the fact that Williams, another of the longest serving teams in F1, made the same mistake with its two drivers, who will line up just ahead of the Scuderia duo tomorrow afternoon.
So tomorrow, on a track that has featured many of the Scuderia’s greatest moments, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, having qualified 19th and 20th, will have to put their heads down, keep out of trouble and try and work their way back to the front. That will be no easy task on a high speed track with limited opportunities for overtaking. But there are 52 laps and with an unusual grid, there is always a chance of something unusual happening.
While the rain proved fatal for Ferrari’s chances, it did make for entertaining viewing for the impartial spectator, as there were several noteworthy or unusual performances. Jules Bianchi for example, on the books at the Ferrari Driver Academy, took his Marussia to twelfth in Q2, the very best performance ever in his F1 career. There was disappointment for the British fans when Lewis Hamilton made the wrong call right at the end of Q3, when he aborted his lap, only to watch Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, achieve an incredible improvement in the final dry sector of the track, to snatch his fourth pole position of the year. Alongside the German tomorrow will be Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who also put in a last ditch effort to haul himself up from tenth to second. If Hamilton’s misfortune saw the large crowd go silent, they got something to cheer about as Jenson Button took an unlikely third for McLaren.
With a dry track forecast for tomorrow, what can the Prancing Horse aspire to tomorrow? One could suggest a points finish, but to be more specific would be difficult.
RAIN ON OUR PARADE
Fernando Alonso: “When it rains in qualifying it’s always a lottery, it can go well or it can go badly. Most of all, it’s easy to make mistakes. At complicated moments like this, you need to fit the right tyres at the right time, but luck definitely plays a part. I think if we had fitted the Mediums thirty seconds earlier or later, with a dry track, things could have gone differently. In the race tomorrow, we will try and make up as much ground as possible.
Yesterday, in the dry, we had a strong pace and even in the wet, as we saw on the first lap in Q1, it seems quite good. Mixed conditions might help us, but here it’s impossible to know now what the weather will do tomorrow. One thing for sure, is that starting so far back, we will see a lot of action”.
Kimi Raikkonen: “We knew the changeable weather would make this qualifying very unpredictable, but I definitely didn’t expect this sort of result. On my first run, I did four laps on Intermediate tyres because the track was still wet, but then when it stopped raining we decided to switch to slicks.
On the first part of the track, the conditions were acceptable, but in the second sector, it began raining again and this prevented us from setting a good enough time to get into Q2. Tomorrow, it won’t be easy moving up the order, but we will do our best to make up ground, also because today I had a better feeling than yesterday and I see no reason why I shouldn’t try and have a good race.”
Pat Fry: “Today’s qualifying result is bitterly disappointing and it means we will have an uphill struggle tomorrow, with a plan to attack right from the first to the last lap. In the opening minutes of Q1 the track conditions were mixed, which is the worst thing possible, because at some points there was a lot of water while other parts of the circuit were drying and some were even completely dry.
It was impossible to improve on the Intermediates because of graining and the switch to slicks definitely complicated matters for the drivers as there was so little grip. When the lap times fell as the track began to dry, we fitted the Mediums, as in fact did everyone else, but the rain returned and that meant we were unable to make it through to the next part of qualifying. Now, our aim in tomorrow’s race is to finish in the points, trying to make the most of the new sets of tyres we have.”