Kimi faces uphill struggle

Raikkonen GermanyNot for the first time this season Felipe Massa out-classed his world champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying.

Whether it was the wind, the overcast conditions, or the presence of Michael Schumacher at the Hockenheimring today, Raikkonen was all over the place, as he battled to get his F2008 pointing in the right direction.

Not only was he beaten by the McLaren pairing and team-mate Massa, but he also succumbed to the likes of Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica, all three of which could wreck havoc with his race tomorrow.

“All weekend long, we have been struggling a bit to find a good set-up for the car,” explained Raikkonen. “At the end of yesterday, it seemed we were on the right road and this morning we tried to improve still further down this path, but it was not the right one. Then, in qualifying, we went reasonably well with low fuel, but in the final session, the car was not as good.”

“Clearly sixth place is not satisfying and tomorrow we won’t be in for an easy time, but it’s definitely not the end of the world. It will be a long race tomorrow and that’s when the points are allocated. For our part, we will do all we can to get a good finish position.”

McLaren clearly have an edge here at Germany but Felipe Massa demonstrated that the gap is not as big as it appears on paper. A wet race could turn things around dramatically and we saw at Silverstone that Raikkonen can be a serious threat in the wet – he was hunting Hamilton down at a rate of knots before a bodged tyre decision dropped him down the pecking order.

What’s more, the feeling is that the Ferrari is quick over a race distance which could play into the hands of Raikkonen should the heavens open.

“Starting from the third row won’t make life easy for Kimi,” said Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. “We can count on having a good race pace with both types of tyre and will have to work with scrupulous attention over the next few hours to prepare for a race that looks like being a very tough one. I am sure both our drivers will give it their best shot and have a great race”

“To get a complete picture of this afternoon, in terms of tomorrow’s race, one has to take into account the usual parameters and the fact that this track allows for more strategic flexibility than usual,” added Ferrari Team Manager Luca Baldisserri.