Saturday 23 March
Kimi Räikkönen set the seventh fastest time in a rain affected qualifying session for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. The Finn will however start from tenth after receiving a three place grid penalty for blocking Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. Romain Grosjean placed eleventh after the rain scuppered his Q2 lap on new tyres; forcing him to abort his final attempt.
Kimi Räikkönen, E21-03 – Q: P7, 1:52.970. FP3: P5, 1:36.806.
“We weren’t quick enough on the intermediates so I don’t think we could have found much more time in the wet today. For sure I wanted more but it is what it is and I hope we’ll do better on Sunday. It’s obviously disappointing to lose three places on the grid, but we’ll have to see what happens in the race. I have no idea what the weather will do, but it will be the same for everyone.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-01 – Q: P11, 1:37.636. FP3: P14, 1:37.690.
“The car felt better today for sure and we were looking good after free practice earlier this afternoon. We should have easily had both cars in the top ten, but unfortunately the skies opened at just the wrong time for me. My first run in Q2 was on scrubbed tyres and then as soon as we came in to fit the new ones it started raining, so for now they stay new. It’s a shame but there’s a long race ahead of us tomorrow and we now have extra sets of fresh dry tyres in our pocket so hopefully we can use them well.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “It’s likely to be a stern test of driver and team.”
What do we say about today?
It was a disappointing qualifying session for us. Rather like in Melbourne, we haven’t placed our cars in the sort of positions our dry pace merits. Like last time, rain disturbed qualifying and we’re not as effective in the wet as we are in the dry. That was qualifying; the race is tomorrow and we have potential for both drivers to put in strong performances.
What weather considerations are there for tomorrow?
Unfortunately, it looks like the weather could be much like today, with further wet conditions. This sort of variable weather is what we frequently see in Malaysia and it’s likely to be a stern test of driver and team, in that it’s very difficult to make the correct strategy choice as the conditions develop. We haven’t shone yet in the wet, but the higher fuel loads we will use tomorrow may make it easier for us to build heat in the intermediate tyre.
How are we placed if it stays dry?
We are looking good on dry pace, especially on heavy fuel loads, so if someone could devise and deploy an effective anti-rain dance we’d be well-placed for a good result. A common Malaysia scenario is a dry track followed by extreme rain, followed by a safety car and it’s in these conditions that bold decisions can bring big rewards. The trick is making the correct bold decision.