Kimi Raikkonen admitted to being disappointed at not joining Nico Rosberg on the front row of the Russian Grand Prix grid, but says that he expects things to be shaken up on raceday.
The Finn was gifted the chance to improve on his usual grid range when both Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel ran into problems before the final phase of qualifying, but a slight mistake on his final flying lap was enough to allow countryman Valtteri Bottas to stay ahead of him and inherit P2 when Vettel's gearbox penalty was applied.
“I ran wide in the last corner on the last lap, but I've been struggling all weekend to put decent lap together,” Raikkonen revealed, “Thankfully, it was better in qualifying, but I was still fighting for front-end grip in a few places. There are a few corners where I've been struggling a bit but, on the last lap, things went a bit smoother in those corners, even if it was not ideal. Then, of course, I went wide in the last corner, so it doesn't help to get one place better and then make a mistake in another corner…
“But it could have been far worse. I'm disappointed with what happened, but it's still going to be okay for tomorrow. It was good enough for third place but it's disappointing, so we'll try to make a good start for the race and go from there. I'll be starting from the clean side of the track and it will all change for tomorrow.”
With the switch from an autumn date to spring not providing any great change in temperature, and a Sochi Autodrom track that gets very little use between grands prix, grip was at a premium for all 22 runners, and Raikkonen confirmed that he was still chasing the perfect set-up on his Ferrari.
“I've been fighting with the set-up of the car the whole weekend, to make the tyres work as we want, as this is a tricky place for that,” he explained, “Every year, it has been quite tricky to make the tyres work on this track. It's slightly easier this year but, in certain points of the track, I'm still fighting with the front-end. In most of the places, I could get around okay but, in others, I didn't, so there's some work to be done with the set-up. I'll take it where we ended up - it wasn't one of the best days, but it was also not a disaster.”
Playing down the impact of the new-spec Ferrari power unit introduced in Russia, claiming that there was no massive change and pointing out that the Scuderia had been putting new parts in the car 'all the time', Raikkonen also said that he was hoping to get through turn one unscathed after what happened in China, where he had a coming together with team-mate Vettel.
“Here, there's a very good straight and, if you can make a good jump off the line, it might help you to be in a safer position in the first corner,” he reasoned, “You never know how it's going to be, as there are so many things that can happen, so we'll try to make good first few corners and go from there...”