Kimi Raikkonen believes he could have challenged for pole position in Montreal had it not been for the deteriorating track surface which he described as “like driving on ice”.
The Ferrari driver eventually had to settle for third place but conceded that he was severely hampered by the fragmenting track surface at the hairpin, one of the corners to be hardest hit by the problem which became prevalent at the end of Q2.
Indeed, on two of his flying laps in Q3 the Finn set personal best times in the first and middle sectors putting him on target to eclipse Lewis Hamilton’s initial benchmark. But the time lost negotiating the hairpin dropped the Ferrari driver to the second row of the grid.
“It’s unbelievable how much time I lost at turn 10, lap after lap,” bemoaned the 28-year-old. “The track was already beginning to break up in Q1 and I had no drive: it was like driving on ice and I never managed to find the right line at this point. It’s a real shame because the car was going very well and I could have fought for pole position.”
Raikkonen was critical of the way the situation was handled and expressed concern that such a fundamental problem should occur in the first place: “I can’t understand how things like this can happen: maybe it’s down to the higher temperatures, or a repair job at this point not done properly but one thing’s certain, in the race tomorrow, it will be very difficult to get through here.”
But he added: “The situation is not that bad. We are quick, as could be seen all weekend long up to qualifying and starting on the clean side of the track is definitely a good thing. Let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow.”
Felipe Massa was similarly compromised by the track surface problems at the hairpin, the Brazilian lapping sixth fastest overall, his worst qualifying result of the season.
“This is definitely not the result we were expecting and it’s a real shame, as we had everything in place to do well,” reflected Massa. “The car was very quick, both yesterday and this morning and, but for the problem which occurred at turn 10, I could definitely have fought for a place at the front.”
“As for the rest, you just have to look at the times: the first and second sectors were very good, while I was losing all the time in the final one. Clearly, if these track conditions at that corner continue in the race, there will be a further element of uncertainty in a race which already traditionally, can be influenced by chance events.”
The Brazilian was nonetheless satisfied with the all-round pace from his F2008 and is adamant that he will out-perform his grid position in the race.
“While in normal circumstances I’d have said that starting from sixth meant I had abandoned any chance of fighting for a top place finish, today, I don’t think I can say that, especially as we have been so strong all weekend.”
Ferrari’s senior management echoed their drivers’ frustration with the track surface problems but remained confident that they would show their true colours over the course of Sunday’s 70 lap race around the Ill Notre Dam.
“We definitely can’t claim to be happy with the result of qualifying, especially as it is not a true reflection of the potential we had,” said Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. “However, there is no point in making a meal of it as the race is tomorrow and that’s when the points are assigned.”
“We are well aware that, especially at this circuit, seventy laps can be very long and anything can happen. We have a car we believe is at least at the same level as our main competitors and if we do everything perfectly, then we can show what we can do.”
Luca Baldisserri, Ferrari’s Team Manager agreed that the team faced an additional challenge in qualifying as a result of the track breaking up.
“We had to tackle the three parts of qualifying differently to usual, because we realised right from yesterday that it would be very difficult for us to get the tyres up to the right temperature for the first timed lap.”
“Then we had the problem at turn 10, where the asphalt began to degrade in Q1. Neither of our drivers ever managed to get through this point cleanly, losing precious tenths on the final lap times: both Kimi and Felipe were on a par with the best up to the end of the second sector and then found themselves left behind at the finish line.”
“We are very unhappy as we thought that we had a package that could deal with the situation. Now we have to concentrate on the race which will be very tough. In Montreal, chance, in the shape of the safety car, often puts in an appearance, which makes the outcome of the seventy laps even more unpredictable.”