Kimi Raikkonen admitted that being the slowest of the 15 drivers in Q2 for the Portuguese Grand Prix had been down to him.
The veteran Finn had a memorable first lap at this venue last year, cutting through the field like a hot knife through butter on a slippery circuit dampened by a light rain shower.
The 2007 World Champion ended up finishing just outside the points that day and will have his work cut out to open his account for this season from P15 on the grid in Portimao.
Raikkonen, whose Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi will be three places further up in 12th, said: “On the last set of softs I missed both laps. I ran wide in one corner on each lap and then this [P15] is what you expect to get.”
The 41-year-old also dismissed his chances of making another sensational start, especially as this weekend’s race is expected to take place in sunny weather compared to the dark clouds that shrouded the Algarve circuit last October.
“If it’s normal conditions, dry, it’s impossible,” said Raikkonen. “We’ll try tomorrow again and see what we get. I’m sure it won’t be easy, but it’s the same for everyone and we’ll do our best.”
It will be a long, hard battle on the up-and-downs of the Algarve, but we’re confident we’re going to be in this fight from the first to the very last lap.
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) May 1, 2021
Giovinazzi was more upbeat about his performance, although he was disappointed to have been denied P11 by a terrific late Q2 lap from George Russell – and even to have missed out on a place in Q3.
“It was not too bad, I think,” said the Italian, who, like Raikkonen, has yet to score a point in 2021.
“A good position to start tomorrow, really close to the top 10, plus we can choose our strategy. George did a great lap, I think P11 was possible, but really close to going into Q3.
“If you see the result here from last year, we were out in Q1 and now we are really close to going into Q3, so really happy with the performance.
“I think tomorrow is a long race and the pace was actually quite good, so I think we can have some fun. We need to have the right strategy, a good start, a good first lap and try to get in the points.”