Scuderia Ferrari endured a blow in the qualifying session for the Mexican GP after promising Friday free practice outings. Kimi Räikkönen ended only sixth fastest while his team-mate Sebastian Vettel grabbed the modest seventh place.
Ferrari’s pace both in qualifying and race trim seemed to be almost on par with Mercedes during Friday’s practice sessions. Sebastian Vettel topped the time-sheet in the second outing on the opening day and completed the most impressive long runs with fast, stable lap times on various tyre compounds. Vettel continued to impress on softs in the third free practice session, but failed to gain much time on supersofts.
In qualifying, Ferrari found it hard to bring the tyres into their operating window. Vettel was very fast on softs in Q2, his 1:19.385 time was only 0,269 second slower than the one of Lewis Hamilton on the same compound.
However, in the all-important Q3 the German could not find any gain on the theoretically much faster supersofts and set a 1:19.381 which was almost identical to the Q2 time completed on softs. It came as a surprise as other drivers could find around half a second on the softest compound available on the Autodromo Hemanos Rodriguez race track.
“I am very disappointed, because the car is quick. Our Q2 had been a walk in the park with the Soft tires. I had a much better feeling, but then with the Supersofts we were nowhere. Yesterday we were gaining quite a lot on the Supersoft compound and today we didn’t gain anything.”
Ferrari can’t understand why the very promising speed of the SF16-H faded as it switched onto the supersofts.
“We tried a couple of things, but in qualifying you can’t turn the world upside down: so now we need to have a look and see why. Everybody improved on the Supersofts, more or less half a second – everybody except us. The car is quick, there is nothing wrong with it, and we start where the car doesn’t belong. It doesn’t make our race easier to start further back, but I think we still have a chance,” concluded Vettel.
Kimi Räikkönen was happy with the balance of his car, especially following the improvements Ferrari made after the final free practice session.
“In Q1 the feeling with the car was good, better than in the morning during P3. Then in Q2 it was quite tricky to get the tires work consistently and to know where the grip was. In the last qualifying stint we were getting there again, but in the first run I felt it a bit odd in the last part of the lap and felt I could have gone faster in a few places.”
The 2007 champion was not happy with his first lap in Q3 and was confident that he could find significant improvement on his very last attempt. However, the Finn encountered issues with his engine which did not deliver the right power output.
“On the second try, for whatever reason, I had no speed in the straight, something was not right and we could not even try to go faster. It’s a pity because I think there was easily quite a lot of speed there today, but we couldn’t use it. Now we have to find out what happened. Obviously it’s disappointing where we finished today but tomorrow we’ll see what we can do.”