Kimi Raikkonen claims traffic and an electronic management problem probably cost himself pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway, but is nonetheless seeing the minimal gap between himself and McLaren to be a good indicator for the race - whatever the weather.

Looking strong in the opening stages of qualifying, Raikkonen seemed less comfortable as the circuit began to lose the standing water and gain some grease as the session wore on, the more nimble McLaren's getting the better of the Ferrari in the latter stages of the lap in particular.

Indeed, while Raikkonen was quicker than Alonso in both the first and second sectors, the Finn was not able to carry that through into the trickier final part of the lap and duly had to settle for a spot behind the two McLarens.

A crucial race for Raikkonen if he is to have a realistic chance of wrestling the title from the grasp of either Lewis Hamilton or Alonso, he is otherwise confident of the car's abilities in either the wet or the dry.

"Quite a good qualifying session. I could probably have got a better grid position but I came up against a bit of traffic and also had a small problem with the electronic management of the gearbox which cost me precious time.

"Of course it was something of a gamble starting qualifying in the wet without having ever run in these conditions but it only took a handful of laps to find the right line. I expect tomorrow's race will be very tight. As we could work out from yesterday's practice, it is very close between us and our main rivals. Overall, the car worked well and I think I can be competitive in the wet or dry."

 

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