Following a close-fought battle against Mercedes and Red Bull, Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen finished the qualifying session for the 2018 Australian Grand Prix as the top Ferrari, in second place, albeit a distant six-tenths of a second behind Hamilton at the front, with teammate Sebastian Vettel slotting in to third place after finishing 0.01 seconds off the Finn’s time. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took fourth and fifth place for Red Bull after struggling to keep up with Mercedes and Ferrari, but both drivers will start on the Supersoft tyre tomorrow after the team opted to switch up its strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen says that despite the significant qualifying gap between Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari there are still plenty of unknowns which he hopes to use as opportunities for the 2018 Formula 1 season opener. The Finnish driver is hunting his first F1 race win in five years this weekend with his last victory coming at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix and after beating Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying he starts from the front row for the first time since at Albert Park since his last race win.
Despite being a huge gap of 0.664s between his qualifying time and pole-sitter Hamilton in the Mercedes, Kimi is quietly confident about his race pace and fighting the defending F1 world champion for the opening race of the 2018 season: “If you look at the time difference [in qualifying] it is bigger than what we want but I think it wasn’t so straightforward today with the conditions. We will have to see in the next one. I think it was more or less okay, one mistake in Q2 and I lost one run, and obviously we used tyres in the first lap of Q3 but the feeling was not too bad. Things could be a bit better here and there. We will try to make a good job of it for tomorrow and keeping working to see what we can do.” – the Finnish driver said at the end of the qualifying session on Saturday.
The 2007 F1 world champion is counting on the uncertainty season-opening races can throw up to provide opportunities tomorrow as he aims to repeat Ferrari’s winning start from last year: “Obviously you want to be as far towards the front as you can be but it doesn’t guarantee anything,” he said. “Whatever has happened in the past it doesn’t make any difference for tomorrow. We will try to make a good race out of it and see where we end up. It is a bit of an unknown as it is the first race so we will do our own stuff and hopefully we can get a good result out of it.” – Kimi concluded, as reported by the Italian media.
The Australian Grand Prix kicks off at 4 p.m. local time in Melbourne on Sunday (6 a.m. UK).