Ferrari shows mighty pace in qualifying

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Malaysia, Sepang International Circuitmy

Scuderia Ferrari arrived with low hopes to Suzuka after its complicated and unsuccessful Malaysian GP weekend, but it managed to rewrite its expectations with its constant and lightening speed in the qualifying for the Japanese GP.

Ferrari expected to be only the third force after the ever-dominant Mercedes and aerodynamically more efficient Red Bull on the Suzuka race track which puts immense emphasis on the aerodynamical balance of the car due to its medium and fast corners and its flowing nature.

The fabled Italian squad, however, showed promising pace during Friday running which it could prove right in the all-important qualifying session on Saturday.

The team’s Finn driver Kimi Räikkönen was not overly happy with the balance of his car on Friday, but he managed to correct it with the help of his engineers’ group for Saturday.

“Overall the car has been behaving quite good; we had suffered from some understeer, but we have been slowly getting better with the set up and the speed and I’m positively surprised how competitive and close to the Mercedes we were. Today the car was a bit less understeering, and this helped a lot in the first part of the lap,” started the Finn his analysis.

“The third position is not too bad but obviously we want to be higher up. This is what we’ve got now and it’s a pity that Seb has a penalty, because the team had quite a strong session today. Obviously we are happy, but we still have some work to be done to improve things and we have to do another good day tomorrow.”

The world champion sounded restrained when he was asked about the prospects for tomorrow’s GP.

“We sure have some speed and it’s not going to suddenly disappear tomorrow. Usually we are a bit better in the race, but we have to wait and see: it will depend on conditions and other stuff but we’ll do our best,” stated the Finn.

Sebastian Vettel was buoyed by the performance of his scarlet red car, but he conceded he made a mistake on his final effort which cost him some valuable time.

“It has been a great result for us as a team; as for myself, obviously I messed up a bit in Q3 with the last sector, and lost a bit too much time. But, all in all, it has been a very good qualifying, our car has been handling well all through the sessions, due to a combination of many things, and it’s satisfying to be with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls.”

The quadruple champion will have to climb a high hill in tomorrow’s Japanese GP after his three-place grid drop following his clash with Nico Rosberg at the start of the Malaysian GP.

“For sure, tomorrow I’ll have to start a bit further back because of the grid penalty, but this is what it is, we take it. Even so, I think the speed will help us to come back and then we’ll see what we can do. I think it will be a close fight. Much will depend on how people handle their tires, because in the first stint everybody starts on the same compound, then we see how the strategies develop,” the German sounded hopeful.