Kimi Räikkönen has lost all six of this year’s qualifying battles to his teammate Sebastian Vettel, but has been much more competitive in the races.
The Finn’s qualifying woes were repeated at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, where traffic consigned him to a third-row start for Sunday’s 78-lap race. With overtaking next to impossible around the tight and twisty street circuit, the 2007 World Champion finished in the same place that he started; teammate Vettel was runner-up to the victorious Nico Rosberg after qualifying in third.
“You have to put all things 100 per cent right in qualifying and get the car working as it works most of the time,” Räikkönen reflected after the race.
The Finn, whose driving style is very friendly to the tyres, says he is having problems getting the tyres working in qualifying, although they last longer in the race.
“It was very difficult to get the tyres working, and when you cannot switch the tyres on on one lap, it will make a lot of difference,” he explained of his Monaco performance.
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was in full agreement with Räikkönen’s assessment: “The problem with Kimi was qualifying. He caught some traffic, and there was a very big gap to the guys in front of him. But then during the race you saw, at a certain part of the race, he had the same pace as Sebastian. So if he improves in qualifying, then he will have no problems in a race, because Kimi in a race is super and he can do a good job.”
“You lose a lot of time easily,” Raikkonen continued. “We have to find a way to work on that and improve that, and that will make a big difference. The tyres make more difference than most of the tings – if they work or if they don’t work there’s a lot of difference in lap time.
“We have improved our car, but we know there are so many things why we cannot get the tyres working as we want. Right now we kind of know what the issues are, but it’s not so easy to make part or make tools to fix those things for one lap. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it, it’s one of those things where we have to put small things together.”
Arrivabene recognises Ferrari has to up its pace in qualifying in general as Vettel has been faced with a Mercedes front row in four of the six races this season. “Mercedes are very quick in qualifying and this is an indication for us where to focus our attention for the future to work,” he said
“If you are going to start in a good position on the grid then the race is going to be easier. When you have clean air in front of you, it’s good for you and the tyres because the consumption of the tyres goes up very fast with someone in front of you. For us, it is something we have to work on.”
As for Räikkönen, Arrivabene joked: “If I have to give him some homework then he has to write 100 times ‘I have to be better in qualifying’.”
Image via XPB Images