|© AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
Fernando Alonso was deprived of a chance to start the Japanese Grand Prix from the second row on the grid after yellow flags interrupted the qualifying session on Saturday.
The Ferrari driver qualified seventh – but will gain a place on the starting grid owing to Jenson Button’s penalty – although the Spaniard reckoned he could have done a lot better.
In the final minutes of Q3, Kimi Raikkonen spun in his Lotus at the Spoon Corner prompting a yellow flag situation, which forced drivers to back off in the third sector affecting the double world champion’s final run.
“What can I say, other than get angry about being unlucky? The yellow flags came at the worst possible moment, when I was coming into Turn 14,” Alonso said. “Up ‘til then, my lap was great and there was every chance of setting the fourth fastest time of the day, which would have then seen me start from third on the grid.
“From there, the race could have taken on a completely different picture, but we have to accept what happened,” he pointed out.
Alonso however was hoping that his fortunes would turn around in Sunday’s 53-lap race but kept his expectations in check.
“We are up against some very strong opponents, like Red Bull who are in front and there is also McLaren who are behind, so we will have to keep an eye on both sides of the track,” observed the championship leader. “I’m expecting a difficult Sunday: the main aim will be to finish - reliability is crucial - and bring home a good points haul.”
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said that it was regrettable that the results did not reflect the car’s true potential.
“We definitely couldn’t say the Gods were smiling on us today!” Domenicali said.
Felipe Massa failed to make it into the final shootout and had to settle for 11th – although he will start tenth owing to Nico Hulkenberg’s penalty - after he struggled with his tyres.
“It’s been one of those days where it seems everything that can go wrong does go wrong,” summed up Ferrari chassis director Pat Fry.