No one was perhaps more surprised with their own qualifying form than Ferrari, with the Italian team having enjoyed a largely successful Singapore Grand Prix so far.
After topping two of the weekend’s three practice sessions, Fernando Alonso qualified his F14T fifth-fastest, while teammate Kimi Räikkönen was stymied by a software issue on approach to his final flying lap and finished up seventh-quickest.
Given the Italian outfit’s recent struggles, the red cars’ performance – in the most closely-contested qualifying session of the season – was something to be celebrated.
“If you had told me yesterday that we would still be competitive in qualifying, probably I wouldn’t have believed it,” Alonso beamed after qualifying just 0.226 seconds slower than pole-winner Lewis Hamilton.
“And in fact this fifth place is a bit different to usual, because the gap to pole is really small. This weekend, I’ve felt comfortable right from the first session and probably much of that is down to the characteristics of the track. It’s impossible to compare it to other races, because this one and Monaco are a law unto themselves. But definitely, we have made a step forward since the start of the season and I’m sure the car will continue to improve right the way to the end.
“Tomorrow’s race will be long and very demanding from a mechanical point of view. Reliability will play a key role as will tyre management, which could make a big difference.”
Despite losing out on the opportunity to improve on his fastest time of Q3, Räikkönen still took some positives away after finally mastering the set-up of his car – a feat he has been struggling to achieve for much of the season.
“I’m very happy with the handling of my car. Yesterday, we made some changes to the set-up and in qualifying, I finally managed to drive the way I wanted,” the 2007 World Champion said.
“Unfortunately, in Q3, on my final run on new Supersoft tyres, a problem forced me to pit. It’s a real shame as I felt comfortable in the car and we had the potential to get a good result. Now I want to feel confident for the race and I hope the team manages to solve the problem without too much difficulty. Tomorrow, we will do our best to bring home as many points as possible, aware that we are going in the right direction.”
Image via XPB Images