Kimi Raikkonen already faced an uphill battle in his bid to win the Monaco Grand Prix before Ferrari failed to get the best out of its Pirelli tyres in qualifying.
The Finn picked up an unwanted penalty after the third and final practice session when his SF16-H needed a gearbox change, instantly dropping him five places over whatever position he managed to secure on track. When neither Ferrari was able to switch on its tyres to full effect in Q3, however, that position became eleventh, leaving the 2005 racewinner with a mountain to climb on a track that does not promote overtaking.
“I don't know exactly what happened, but we had to change parts or the whole gearbox and that was a very unfortunate thing,” he lamented, “It's not the first time unfortunate things happen – if I could take the penalty somewhere else, I would – but this is how it is. It will be a tricky day tomorrow, but we'll see what we can get out of it. Hopefully it will be a really chaotic race and it comes our way. You never know…”
Despite the frustration of finishing only sixth fastest in Q3, 1.1secs adrift of poleman Daniel Ricciardo, Raikkonen believes that his car was better even if it did not get the most out of Pirelli's new ultrasoft tyre.
“Of course I'm not happy, but this is where we've finished unfortunately so, if you say that we f*cked it up or not, I don't know,” the Finn said, “For sure, we improved the car from practice, even from this morning, but I think it has more to do with getting the tyres to where we want them to be, to be able to switch them on, to make sure they are in the working range they should be on, to get the best grip out of it.
“We were so much on the edge of that working range that some laps were better and then you expected the tyres to behave the same way, but you either lose the rears or you lose the fronts. It's not easy in this kind of place and we took a big time penalty for that. If we would know how to fix that issue we would but, right now, it's difficult.
“We only ran with the Ultrasoft today as, from testing, we knew that it is the easiest tyre to get to work. We expected them to work here, but it was difficult to get them to work as they've been maybe designed for. I don't know the reasons behind that, but I don't expect that it would be suddenly any easier with other tyres, because the other tyres are actually harder tyres, so...”
Despite the prospect of starting from row six, Raikkonen is well aware that anything can happen in Monaco.
“This is probably the worst circuit to have issues or start from far back, but this also a tricky race, a lot of things happen and hopefully we'll make the right calls when the safety cars or something else happens,” he noted, “In the race, the car will be pretty okay because the tyres take some laps to work.”