Out of the deluge, a ray of sunshine. A soaked qualifying session in Istanbul produced our best Saturday of 2020, with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi battling in the top ten in all three segments of qualifying.
On an unforgiving track that produced some of the most treacherous conditions in the 2020 season so far, our drivers took their C39s to Q3 for the first time: they showed composure when even keeping the car facing the right way was a challenge, delivering lap after lap to improve their times. Both drivers flirted with the top positions in the standings in Q1 and Q2, and in a tense Q3 session, with the track drying enough for some to try intermediate, they kept their cool. In the end, it was P8 for Kimi and P10 for Antonio, the team-mates extracting the most from the session and maximising the step forward in performance the engineers had delivered after FP3.
The result puts us in a good position to be in the fight for points from the first lap of the race: with Sunday’s forecast threatening further rain, the challenge ahead might be a big one – but it won’t be one from which we’ll shy away.
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: “We can be really pleased about today’s qualifying result. The conditions out there weren’t easy with low grip and a cold and wet track, but we did a good job: the wet tyres worked well with our package and everyone delivered. This morning’s session was quite tough, but we had a good reaction as a team and made a big step forward for qualifying. We had both drivers consistently in the top ten throughout the session and this is a big morale boost, on top of being a good opportunity to score points tomorrow. We can be proud of what we did on an important weekend for the team, but no points are given out on Saturday: we still have to do a good job in the race.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “We brought home a good qualifying result as a team and we can be happy with it. These were some of the most awful conditions I’ve faced in my career but there wasn’t much we could do about it, we just had to go out and face them. We struggled a lot in the morning, but I think the laps we did in FP3 helped us later in the day. Even when the rain stopped, the track remained very slippery and it was hard to stay on track, but in the end I think the conditions benefitted us. What really matters is tomorrow, we have to do our best and see where we end up. We have a good chance to convert our grid places into a good result.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It’s really nice to be in Q3 for the first time this year, especially to do so with both cars: it’s a nice way to celebrate the team’s 500th race, but there’s still plenty to do to get the job done. The conditions out there weren’t easy, probably the most difficult in my career, but we put together the laps when it mattered and we achieved our best result of the season so far. We tried to switch to inters for Q3 but in the end I couldn’t get them to work as well as I wanted: still, we can be very happy with what we achieved as a team. From these positions we have a chance to do really well, especially if conditions remain like these. It won’t be easy to make up as many places as we usually do at the start, but I will definitely try!”
Check out our Saturday gallery from Istanbul, here.