Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for the Japanese Grand Prix, saying he enjoyed himself thanks to a solid balance of his car. Kimi Raikkonen on the other hand had a less optimised car, mostly due to him being sidelined in FP3 as the team were changing the power unit on his car.
Fernando Alonso, 5th: “I’ve often ended up fifth in qualifying, but I think that today’s result can be seen in a different light as I enjoyed myself a lot out on track, both in the quick parts and the slower ones. So far, this weekend has been very positive as I had a good feeling from the car right from the first lap of free practice. Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension, because over the past two days, we haven’t done any wet running and having to do the opening lap of the race itself in the rain always complicates matters. Currently, we don’t know how much rain we can expect, so all we can do is prepare for a difficult race, because Suzuka is a circuit where, even in the dry, incidents can occur and it’s easy to make mistakes. I think that later today, the race director might take a decision regarding this, with the possibility of bringing the race forward.”
Kimi Raikkonen, 10th: “Today’s performance was in line with the whole weekend so far and even if I’ve had a good feeling from the car, I was unable to resolve a few problems already encountered on Friday. In the morning’s free practice, a technical problem meant I had to stop running earlier than planned and that prevented us from testing some new components, which would have been useful for the set-up choice. The team did a great job to get my car ready for qualifying in record time. In the first sector, I had a few balance problems and that stopped me pushing as hard as I wanted. I did my best today and tomorrow we will try and make up some places and have a good race.”
Pat Fry, Engineering Director: “Today was particularly tough, starting with the third free practice session, when we had to pit Kimi, having spotted an anomaly on his power unit. Qualifying was reasonably straightforward, especially for Fernando, who finished fifth in all three sessions. The Williams proved to have both good power and aerodynamic downforce, but that won’t stop us trying to attack them. The Red Bull performance was surprising but one cannot discount them at this track. Unfortunately, the problem on Kimi’s car meant we couldn’t optimise the balance on his car, which is so important at this track, but the mechanics did a really amazing job. In just two hours they managed to dismantle and reassemble the car, configuring a new power unit, so that he could take part in qualifying. Tomorrow, a typhoon is forecast and so we will need to adapt to whatever conditions arise, because the result of the race is not a foregone conclusion.”