There will be an all-Ferrari fifth row on the grid for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when it gets underway at 17h00 (14h00 CET) at the Yas Marina track. Kimi Raikkonen will start from ninth, having qualified around four tenths faster than tenth placed team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Q1 went off smoothly: both drivers did a first run on the Softs, before quickly switching to the Supersofts, for Kimi to go tenth and Fernando twelfth.
Life got more complicated in Q2, especially for Raikkonen, who had to use an extra set of Supersoft tyres and only just made it through to the next stage, with a heart-stopping lap in the dying moments of the session. Alonso went through in seventh spot.In Q3, Raikkonen was only able to make one run, while the others all did two. The Finn’s best lap was a 1.42.236. Alonso’s first run produced a 1.42.866, but he was unable to improve on his next set, when he made a mistake.
For the eleventh time this season, Nico Rosberg took pole in 1.40.480, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by around 4 tenths. Tomorrow, second place is enough to give the Englishman the title.
It’s an all-Williams second row, with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and all-Red Bull third row, Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Row 4 features Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Jenson Button (McLaren.)
Fernando Alonso: “Today’s qualifying was very tricky on a weekend that, in general, has been more complicated than usual. Changing the engine after the final free practice session created a few extra problems and it took until Q2 for the car to perform consistently. Tomorrow, I expect an uphill struggle, partly because, over the past two days, we haven’t done any practice starts and I have never run with a full fuel load. But at the same time, I really want to give it my all and try and make up as much ground as possible. It will be a special day for me and even if it’s really about the title contenders, Rosberg and Hamilton, I would like my last race for Ferrari to feature some nice battles, for the team and for all the fans who have supported me over these past years.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Even before we arrived in Yas Marina, we knew this track would not favour our car and all weekend, we never managed to find a set-up that worked well at every corner. Today, in qualifying, I felt more comfortable, but it wasn’t simple putting a good lap together. I was always on the limit and on some parts of the track the car worked well and in others it tended to slide. Tomorrow it will be a difficult race, but as always, we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible for the team.”
Pat Fry: “Given our performance in yesterday’s free practice, we knew we were facing a complex weekend and, unfortunately, today’s qualifying turned out to be particularly trying. The gap to our competitors is more evident from the second to third sectors where what counts is mainly speed and driveability, two areas we are working on a lot as we know we need to improve. In the opening laps of Q1 we had various problems, especially on Fernando’s car, some down to traffic management, others linked to technical parameters after we changed the power unit. As the sessions went on, track conditions improved significantly and we tried to get the most out of our package. Starting from the fifth row means we will have to attack and so the entire team has to be absolutely concentrated in order to bring home as many points as possible.”