Raikkonen coy on Ferrari’s Suzuka chances despite beating Red Bull in qualifying

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Kimi Raikkonen remains coy about Ferrari’s chances in the Japanese Grand Prix despite leapfrogging both Red Bull’s in Saturday’s Formula 1 qualifying session at Suzuka.

Ferrari arrived in Japan trailing Red Bull by 46 points in the constructors’ championship as both vie for second place behind the dominant Mercedes team.

Red Bull scored a one-two finish last weekend in Malaysia as Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first race win in two years, while Ferrari left Sepang with just a fourth-place finish to its name courtesy of Raikkonen.

Ferrari enjoyed the edge in qualifying at Suzuka on Saturday, though, as Raikkonen and Vettel qualified third and fourth respectively, leaving the Red Bulls to settle for P5 and P6.

Despite the result, Raikkonen is refusing to read too much into it with regards to Ferrari’s battle against Red Bull, instead preferring to leave judgement until Sunday’s race.

“It’s only one day, one qualifying. Obviously we’re happy about it but you get zero points today,” Raikkonen told NBCSN.

“We have to do another good day tomorrow and obviously do our maximum to get the best out of it. What we’re going to get, we’ll see that tomorrow.”

Vettel qualified fourth, but will drop three places on the grid as a result of a grid penalty carried over from Malaysia where he made contact with Nico Rosberg and Verstappen at the first corner.

“I think I could have been a bit quicker for P3, but Kimi seemed to get some very good laps in Q3 and managed to be just ahead,” Vettel told NBCSN after the session.

“From a team point of view it’s been a really good day, with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls. I think it’s about time we had a clean session without any issues for both of us.

“Tomorrow will be very close. Obviously I’ll start a little bit further back, and we’ll see what we can do. The strategy might look a little bit different, we’re a little bit out of position, but it should be a close race anyway with Red Bull.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 12am ET on Sunday.