April 5th, 2014 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso qualified a surprisingly lowly 10th for the Bahrain Grand Prix, apparently due to a loss in power in Q3. His team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, had no such problems and set the sixth fastest time of the session. Each driver moves up one place on the grid due to Daniel Ricciardo's grid penalty.
Over the past few seasons, it has become almost normal for Fernando Alonso to be higher up the grid than expected - he just seems to have an ability to deliver quality qualifying laps when they are most needed. So it was quite surprising to see him six tenths of a second slower than his own team-mate in Q3. The reason, as confirmed by Alonso after qualifying, was a drop in power from his Ferrari power unit.
Alonso explained his qualifying session:
“We tried our best as usual today and now we need to wait for the car to come back from parc ferme to work out why there was a drop in power in Q3. In winter testing here we had already seen that this circuit is particularly suited to the Mercedes powered cars, because the long straights allow them to use their top end performance. But given how free practice and the first two parts of qualifying had gone, maybe we could have hoped to be a bit higher up the order."
Despite his struggles in qualifying, Alonso remained optimistic about Sunday's race. He will be hoping to deliver a characteristic fighting drive for Ferrari tomorrow. He said, "Now, we must think only of doing well tomorrow, especially at the start, given we are on the clean side because of Ricciardo’s penalty. Then we must work out the best strategy, choosing between two or three stops. A lot will depend on how the tyres perform: I think that, in lower temperatures than we have seen so far, the Medium could throw up some surprises.”
Kimi Raikkonen expressed satisfaction with his qualifying result, and with the progress the team has made since the start of the season. He said, "I am reasonably pleased with my qualifying, because up until this morning, I did not feel completely comfortable in the car, but the faith I put in what we had at our disposal was paid back with this result.
"We are improving in all areas, on the engine, data acquisition, electronics and the new parts fitted to the car have given me a better feeling from the front end. Sure, we are not yet where we want to be, but I think we are on the right path and we have the right people to give us every possibility to continue to move forward.
"It’s hard to say how tomorrow’s race will go, because in the simulation done yesterday, I was struggling on the Medium tyre, while the balance was better on the Soft. We know we can’t fight with Mercedes, but today’s result gives me more confidence than at the previous races and I will do my best to bring home a good result."
Raikkonen has yet to finish ahead of Alonso in a race since they became team-mates at the start of this season. He will be hoping to change that record tomorrow.