MARINA BAY, Singapore — Kimi Raikkonen believes pole position was well within reach for Ferrari in Singapore but explained how even slight weaknesses can be exaggerated around the Marina Bay circuit.
The Ferraris entered qualifying as red-hot favourites to secure pole position after dominating practice and looking super pacey on the hyper-soft tyre, but it wasn’t to be. A stunning lap time of 1:36.015 from Lewis Hamilton saw pole go to Mercedes while Max Verstappen equalled his career-best qualifying performance by posting the second fastest time of the session.
Sebastian Vettel was the quickest Ferrari, finishing third and 0.613s down on Hamilton, while Raikkonen was a further 0.163s behind in fifth place.
Speaking after qualifying, Raikkonen stressed how the characteristics of Singapore’s long and tight street circuit — which has a calendar-high 23 corners — can make deficiencies stand out more than normal.
“In a place like this it’s fundamental to have [the qualifying setup] exactly how we want because it’s such a long track,” Raikkonen said. “You lose even half a tenth in one place and when that happens in a few corners you suddenly have three, four-tenths difference. That’s what is obviously tricky here.
“If you get everything exactly as we want then suddenly you’re half a second faster because it’s the nature of this place.”
Nevertheless, Raikkonen was still surprised to see such a gap between Ferrari and Mercedes in qualifying, saying it didn’t follow any form lines from earlier in the weekend.
“If you look at how it’s been all weekend, it’s been very easy and everything’s been running smoothly,” he said. “[Qualifying] was more difficult than any other part of this week and that is what is a bit odd. It was a bit of a surprise because obviously, it’s not like it’s different conditions than what it’s been earlier this weekend.