Yet, oddly enough, they employed both Raikkonen and Alonso as their number 1 drivers for close to a decade, and neither of them are especially good qualifiers; I'd certainly classify them as being better racers than qualifiers.
Even in their most dominant years (and cars), neither managed very high numbers of pole positions. Alonso in particular has an extremely lopsided Win-to-Pole ratio (1.45 Wins per Pole). Compare that to other notables:
Lauda - 25 wins, 24 poles; 1.04
Senna - 41 wins, 65 poles; 0.63
Prost - 51 wins, 33 poles; 1.54
Schumacher - 91 wins, 68 poles; 1.33
Mansell - 31 wins, 32 poles; 0.97
Hakkinen - 20 wins, 26 poles; 0.77
Vettel - 52 wins, 55 poles; 0.95
Hamilton - 71 wins, 80 poles; 0.89
Jenson Button - 15 wins, 8 poles; 1.88
Jackie Stewart - 27 wins, 17 poles; 1.59
Jim Clark - 25 wins, 33 poles; 0.76
Raikkonen - 20 wins, 18 poles; 1.11
N. Rosberg - 23 wins, 30 poles; 0.77
Senna and Clarke were both famously quick over 1 lap. Hakkinen and Rosberg are also well regarded over 1 lap.
I can't comment on Stewart (before my time), but neither Button nor Prost were ever regarded as 1-lap specialists.
Alonso's numbers are much closer to those of Button and Prost than they are Clark or Senna.
Point being, I agree 1 lap pace is crucially important for race outcomes. I don't agree Ferrari hired Alonso because he's a stellar qualifier. By no measurement is he slow, but he's never been definitely the best qualifier during his era.
I think, at the time, Alonso recommended himself on the following basis:
- was already a World Champion (proven experience)
- charismatic and spoke Italian (marketable and convenient)
- fast over 1 lap (if not the outright quickest)
- incredible race craft (probably the best at the time of being hired)
- he was looking, as were Ferrari (fortuitous)