Ferrari is confident of being able to fight for a double rostrum finish with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in the most coveted race on the Formula 1 calendar in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix – after the former returned the Scuderia
to the front row of the starting grid for the first time since last year in the glamorous Principality.
Having already displayed an improvement to what has been its worst start to a season in almost three decades in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona a fortnight ago, Ferrari arrived in Monte Carlo aiming to take another step forward – and in qualifying second (Raikkonen) and fifth around the narrow, tortuous streets upon which it has triumphed on more occasions than any other team aside from McLaren, it has done that and then some.
Comfortably its best showing of the campaign to-date, hopes are now high that Raikkonen can deploy his KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) device to good effect when the lights go out to signal the start of the race in vaulting past Brawn GP pole-sitter Jenson Button – and if the Finn does indeed prove capable of doing that, then anything is possible.
“Second place is a nice result but I'm disappointed that I missed out on pole by a few hundredths,” reflected the 2007 F1 World Champion, fastest of all on the low-fuel Q2 run. “Here, there is a much bigger difference between starting from first or second place, but the car has improved and that can be seen from the performance level.
“Today, we felt ever-more comfortable as the track's grip level improved bit-by-bit. I had some difficulties on the first run in Q1, but then things got better all the time. In the end, I had the possibility of doing another lap, but I went long at the first corner; I don't know if I could have done a better time.
“Tomorrow's race will be long and tough. The start will be very important, and on the short straight here KERS will definitely be a help, but not as much as elsewhere. All-the-same, it's good to be back in the fight for the top places and I will give it my best shot to try and win, because that's the only thing that matters.”
“Today's showing confirms we are capable of fighting for the top places,” concurred team-mate Massa, whose session nearly ended in disaster just moments into Q1 when he nudged his F60 into the unforgiving Armco barriers, requiring a change of nosecone before he rebounded to wind up just over half a second adrift of Raikkonen at the close.
“We were in with a chance of getting into the top three, but I never managed to get a clean lap, partly because of traffic and partly through some small slip-ups. These things can easily happen in Monaco, though, and fifth is still a good place to start the race.
“I am confident for tomorrow. It will be a long race, but the F60 is competitive. Step-by-step we are getting back to where we are used to being. The accident at the start of Q1? I had new brakes and the harder tyres, which struggled a bit more to get up to temperature, so as soon as I touched the brakes I locked the wheels and ended up against the guardrail.”