NEEDS A WIN: Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has a chance to claim his first win at Monza and give the Tifosi something to celebrate at the team's home race.Image: AFP/Olivier Morin
MONZA, Italy - Kimi Raikkonen surprised himself and aroused a passionate response on Saturday when he and Sebastian Vettel grabbed second and third places on the grid for Ferrari for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
The two Ferrari drivers may not have overhauled Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, as the defending two-time champion took his 11th pole in 12 races, but they forced their way into the reckoning in front of a delighted home crowd and, in their garage, Ferrari chairman and Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne.
RAIKKONEN YET TO WIN AT MONZA
After a roller coaster career, Raikkonen, 35, the 2007 champion with Ferrari and a veteran of 20 wins and a cult following for his laconic 'ice man' image has an unexpected chance to claim a first win at Monza's old Autodromo Nazional in Ferrari's home race.
Under a blue sky amid the tifosi packed into the old royal park, his success on Saturday (August 5) represented his first front row qualifying success since the 2013 Chinese GP with Lotus, a feat he had clearly forgotten when he talked amiably about his efforts.
Read: Ferrari president: Tifosi will be delighted for 2016
The Finn said: "It's been a while.
"I don't know how long since I was on the front row - probably around 10 years, I think..."
When he laughed, so too did his audience including Hamilton and Vettel.
"Yes, obviously I am happy: for me, and for the people who support us and for the team. This gives us a good chance for the race and now we have to do a good job and a good result..."
"SURPRISED TO BE COMPARED TO MERCEDES"
It is a rare day when Raikkonen upstages Vettel and rarer too when the Ferrari upstage Mercedes.
Raikkonen said: "In a way it's a big surprise that we are this strong compared to Mercedes.
"People always talk so much about Friday (August 4), but it's just Friday - you do whatever you want and it's not about the lap-times.
"It's pointless to say we were bad yesterday. We just did our stuff we normally do and if you end up first or 10th it makes no difference. It turned out in qualifying that it all worked out well for us.
The Finn added: "We're still not happy with second or third, but this was a place where we expected it to be a bit more difficult because of the circuit layout. So, yeah, it's a big surprise..."
Pragmatic as ever, he added that he felt no emotional or psychological boost from the result.
Raikkonen said: "The first corner can easily be a mess here, in the middle of the pack.
"So the best thing in qualifying second is that we'll have much less trouble in the first corner and that gives us a good chance for the race."