Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ended qualifying for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix as best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

The Iceman set a qualifying time of 01:30.949s and speaking following the session the Finn commented by saying:

Overall the car has been behaving quite good; we had suffered from some understeer, but we have been slowly getting better with the set up and the speed and I’m positively surprised how competitive and close to the Mercedes we were. Today the car was a bit less understeering, and this helped a lot in the first part of the lap. The third position is not too bad but obviously we want to be higher up. This is what we’ve got now and it’s a pity that Seb has a penalty, because the team had quite a strong session today. Obviously we are happy, but we still have some work to be done to improve things and we have to do another good day tomorrow. We sure have some speed and it’s not going to suddenly disappear tomorrow. Usually we are a bit better in the race, but we have to wait and see: it will depend on conditions and other stuff but we’ll do our best.

Raikkonen’s team mate Sebastian Vettel who has been told by team boss Maurizio Arrivabene that he must earn a contract extension at the end of next season was out-qualified by the Finn.

Vettel qualified in fourth place but will start the race from seventh place behind Sergio Perez and speaking following the session, the German commented by saying:

It has been a great result for us as a team; as for myself, obviously I messed up a bit in Q3 with the last sector, and lost a bit too much time. But, all in all, it has been a very good qualifying, our car has been handling well all through the sessions, due to a combination of many things, and it’s satisfying to be with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls. For sure, tomorrow I’ll have to start a bit further back because of the grid penalty, but this is what it is, we take it. Even so, I think the speed will help us to come back and then we’ll see what we can do. I think it will be a close fight. Much will depend on how people handle their tires, because in the first stint everybody starts on the same compound, then we see how the strategies develop.

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