Kimi Raikkonen insists that mistake he made on his fastest lap in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix were the biggest reason for the time difference between himself and Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.
The pair ended up fourth and eighth on the grid after a rain-affected qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, but Raikkonen – who has struggled to match Alonso since returning to Maranello - maintained that there were no technical differences between the two F14-Ts and that the gap was down to him.
“They were quite difficult conditions and I made quite a few mistakes on the last lap,” he confessed, “I was held up on the out-lap by a few cars, which affected the way I wanted to start the whole lap and get the tyres ready, but I just made some mistakes and didn't get a good lap on that last run.”
Asked whether he felt that the progress that led to him finishing sixth in the Hungarian Grand Prix before F1's summer break had been continued in Belgium, Raikkonen admitted that the conditions had effectively made evaluation difficult, particularly as he had lost large parts of Friday's two practice sessions to technical gremlins. While confirming that improvements had been gradually introduced to the Ferrari powerplant, Raikkonen admitted that the Spa and Monza circuits would still favour the Mercedes runners
“In the wet conditions, it's a bit more tricky to say,” he confirmed, “They were difficult conditions and I was sliding a lot, so it was quite tricky. In the dry yesterday, I had so many problems that we couldn't really do much. This morning, [in FP3], it didn't feel too bad - the lap probably wasn't anything good, but the car felt quite good, so everything seems to be okay. Obviously, the wet is always wet and bit tricky, but it was not a disaster.”
With initial forecasts for race day suggesting that the Belgian round could be run in the dry, Raikkonen faces a potential disadvantage by not having much running on day one, but the Finn insists that experience should be enough to ensure a decent run. He revealed that he had opted for the bigger wing on offer at Ferrari due to the wet conditions, but would probably have still taken it in dry as, on lap time, he felt that there was not much difference between the two in terms of performance.
“Running [on Friday] was a bit limited by the issues on my side and, this morning, there were just two or three laps [in the dry], so not many, but I think we should be okay knowing what we should do,” he claimed, “The weather can change a lot here - and quickly, as we have seen - so we'll try to make the right decisions at the right time and hopefully get a good result.
“Obviously, the weather will be the same for everyone, and sometimes it works for you and sometimes not. Hopefully, whatever the conditions are, we'll make the right call and get a good race. It'll be a long race and different conditions from start to finish, so let's see how it is.”