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Romain Grosjean qualified in P7 whilst Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of the non-Q3 participants in P11 during qualifying for tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix. Kimi's starting position outside the top ten means he has an open choice of starting tyre for the race.
Kimi Raikkonen: "We had the speed today and we could easily have gone through to the final session with another run, but we thought it was worth taking the risk to only do one lap in Q2 and save fresh sets of tyres for the race. Managing the tyres will be a priority tomorrow, so while it was a gamble that didn't get us through to the final session it will hopefully be a strategy which pays off in the race. We knew it was going to be close and of course we always want to be as high up the grid as possible, but there were two options and we went for the one which we believe will deliver the best result on Sunday. There are no points given out on Saturday, so let's see what happens tomorrow."
Romain Grosjean: "It was a good result for the team. We've now got through to Q3 at every race weekend this season and that's always satisfying. I think we can be pleased with how the car is working. If I hadn't made a small mistake on my flying lap we could maybe be even further up the order. It's a big contrast here to the conditions we saw in China, and I think we can be proud of how well we've adapted to that change as it makes finding the right setup a big challenge. Today we were maybe a bit further behind the leaders than we'd like, but our race pace looks good and it's another close grid so tomorrow should be very interesting."
How do you assess today's qualifying performance? Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: "We're a little bit disappointed with our pace on the soft tyre and we need to assess where we lost out on speed as we didn't achieve what we thought would be possible with Romain in Q3. Kimi's pace was comparable to Romain's and with another set of tyres he could have gone through to Q3.Tomorrow will be all about tyre degradation, so we took the risk not to run Kimi a second time in the Q2 session in order to save tyres. Unfortunately, he was pipped out of the top ten at the last moment. We knew it was a risk not running him again, but the performance penalty of not making Q3 was is not as great as it could have been due to the benefits of the fresh tyres saved for the race."
How does Kimi's P11 starting position look when assessing the race strategies? AP: "It's better to be starting in P11 with four new sets of tyres available for the race than further up the grid with fewer new sets. Kimi's in a strong position and there is the potential for a good result. We are capable of running for the entire race with only new tyres and the performance benefits that brings."
Did you expect better from Romain's qualifying performance? AP: "Romain did a great job in Q1 on the prime tyre, but his pace wasn't quite there with his initial run in Q2 on the soft tyre so we ran him again. In Q3 he made a slight mistake which probably cost around two tenths, and the grid is very close out there."
What is the difference between the two tyre specifications here? AP: "We're seeing around 6-8 tenths, although it appears that some of our rivals are able to extract a bit more pace from the soft tyre than we are. This is not so much of an issue for the race, as we are confident in our long run pace."
Thoughts for tomorrow? AP: "It's going to be a long hot race tomorrow. There's potential for high tyre degradation and it's a physical race for the drivers because of the heat. Anything is possible."
Check out our Qualifying gallery, here.
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