Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified 5th for the Chinese Grand Prix while Kimi Raikkonen will start from 11th. Alonso and his team though expected to enjoy a better race than previous events thanks to some car updates brought to this track.
Although there is still a 50% chance of rain which is why, like several other teams, the Scuderia did very little running in this morning’s final hour of free practice, saving rain tyres just in case.
Even Kimi Raikkonen felt the car was better, although the Finn who missed all of yesterday morning’s practice session with a technical problem, struggled in the wet conditions this afternoon, just failing to make the cut into Q3 and therefore starts from 11th place on Row 6. In the wet, the gaps were significant, with Fernando half a second slower in Q3 than fourth placed Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, but Friday’s dry running points to a slightly closer contest tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso, 5th: “When it rains you never know how things will turn out as track conditions can get worse lap after lap and so that’s one reason for me to be pleased with the way qualifying went. Fifth place means I can start with the lead group and if I can stay with the leaders we can finish close to the podium. The opening laps will count for a lot therefore and we must try our absolute best to get a good start and to avoid battles, which in the last few races have seen us lose ground. Yesterday, the car was more competitive and that means we can hope for a better race than in the last three. I think that here in China, we have taken the first step towards improving; the car behaved well in all areas and is performing better on the aerodynamic front, thanks to the small updates we have introduced here and we have more power, having revised some settings on the power unit. Certainly, we are still a long way off the pace of the leaders, because they too are progressing, but we can hope to fight for better positions and more points.”
Kimi Raikkonen, 11th: “The past two days have been difficult, because after yesterday’s technical problem, this morning I also only did a single run, but overall, I felt more comfortable in the car. Unfortunately, on my last run in Q2, when I was on my quick lap, I lost a lot of time in the final sector and that meant I didn’t make the cut to Q3. The car’s handling was inconsistent, as it was stable in some parts of the track and less so in others. I had some problems with the balance and this had an effect on my performance. It’s too early to say what happened, but the time lost yesterday definitely didn’t help. Now I want to concentrate on tomorrow’s race and try my best to end this weekend with a good result.”
Pat Fry, Engineering Director: “The weather forecast for today proved to be right and a light but persistent rain had a significant effect on both sessions. In the morning, we chose to run as little as possible so as not to use up the rain tyres in order to have as many new sets as possible for qualifying and the race. Kimi unfortunately did not get past Q2.
"Yesterday he lost the first free practice session and today he was fighting with the balance of the car, especially in the slow corners. As for Fernando, he managed to get through the three parts of qualifying without any particular problems and fifth place on the grid tomorrow will mean he can be in the leading group. With him, we will try and exploit any opportunity to attack while with Kimi we will try and move him up the order to take as many points as he can. In both cases, the opening two laps will hold the key.”