Kimi Raikkonen says he wasn't able to dial in his Ferrari for a perfect lap during qualifying and has a tricky challenge ahead to turn it into a positive weekend.

The former F1 world champion struggled with grip in the twistier third split at the Circuit de Catalunya compared to the Red Bull and Mercedes cars, leaving him fifth on the grid.

Feeling he had to compromise between pushing the edges of grip on his flyer and after suffering a couple of slides in Q2, Raikkonen feared Ferrari would lose out to its rivals through the final sector in the pole shootout.

"It's been quite difficult but the conditions are how they are," Raikkonen said. "For sure in the last sector is where we lose the most but if you're trying and pushing sometimes you get it wrong, not an easy day. We tried to do the best we can and this is what we got. Obviously it's far from where we want to be.

"It's not the easiest place to make the tyre first of all last for a whole lap and to have the grip that you need. Obviously if you just bolt on grip on the car or downforce it will help you in many ways because the tyre will last better and the lap time [will improve] quite a bit but we seem to struggle a bit compared to the cars in front of us in the last sector probably more than anywhere else.

"But we know the reasons behind that, it could be many, but we will see what we can do and what it is. Obviously there is some work to be done."

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