Romain Grosjean qualified P4 with team-mate Kimi Räikkönen P9 ahead of tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix. Warm, dry conditions remained in place throughout the day at the Suzuka circuit, with changing wind direction a factor throughout proceedings.
Romain put in an impressive lap on the hard compound tyre to go fastest in the red flag interrupted Q1 session with Kimi taking P8. The Frenchman then edged a tight intra-team Q2 battle to take P3 from his Finnish counterpart’s P5, with both posting laps within three tenths of one another in the final Q3 session to end the day in P4 / P9.
Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05: “The car has felt much better here than it has in recent races; even if we don’t have a better position on the grid for tomorrow. A small mistake on my quick lap cost me a little bit of time and it’s very close here, so a small amount lost can mean quite a few positions dropped. We’ll have to see what happens in the race, but the car has certainly been more to my liking this weekend so the position on the grid is not a drama.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-04: “The Red Bulls have looked very strong and we knew it would be tight with Lewis [Hamilton] for P3, so I think we did a good job to take P4. The car feels much better than it did yesterday; especially on the hard tyres which we had been struggling with previously but were then fastest with in Q1 today. The team worked hard to address this overnight and we’ve shown great progress through the weekend once again. It’s a tight, technical circuit, the wind is still making things tricky and it should stay pretty hot, so it’ll be interesting to see what we can do in the race. I’m feeling pretty good.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
How was qualifying for the team?
Today went reasonably to plan with both drivers in the top ten for tomorrow’s race. Romain continued his good qualifying form and P4 on the grid is a good result, but agonisingly close to P3 once again. It was a very close qualifying session so to have Kimi start P9 is no big drama; especially as we know how well he can work through the field in race conditions.
How much progress has been made since yesterday?
After missing some long runs on Friday, we spent more time on race preparation during morning practice and managed to unlock some extra pace in the car – especially on the primes – so we’re now very happy on both compounds. Yes, we did struggle with the hard tyres yesterday, but we’ve made a significant setup change which has certainly been beneficial in this area. Both drivers are much happier with their cars.
What are the strategic permutations tomorrow?
The weather forecast looks fine, while the wind – which is often a factor here – looks to be coming from a similar direction to today although maybe not as strong. With that in mind – added to our pace on both tyre compounds – we’re confident we can come up with a good strategy for a strong result.
Subbed by AJN.