Fernando Alonso underlined the burgeoning competitiveness of the McLaren-Honda package by qualifying 10th for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, the third successive race in which the team has reached the Q3 phase of the qualifying session.
Team-mate Jenson Button proved equally competitive all weekend, but lost out on a critical tow down the back straight that would have improved his chances of also making the top 10.
If the weather remains dry tomorrow – which it may or may not – both drivers will be looking for points-scoring positions at the end of what is usually one of the most unpredictable and exciting grands prix of the year.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP3 8th 1m14.801s (+0.882s) 19 laps
Q1 14th 1m15.026s (on Options)
Q2 10th 1m14.260s (on Options)
Q3 10th overall* 1m14.338s (on Options)
“That was a nice surprise today – we’ll take it. “I was definitely happy with that session – it can be a tricky circuit in these mixed conditions, and tomorrow will be tougher for us, but there’s potentially wet weather forecast for tomorrow, and maybe a bit of rain would help us.
“I’m very happy – we’ve done an amazing job with this car in the past 12 months and we’re now in a position that’s perhaps better even than we’d expected. So I have to say thanks to everyone in the team: we were only four-tenths behind Ferrari in Q2, and that should boost the belief and motivation of everyone in the McLaren and Honda factories.
“We’re ready to attack: we’re not fighting for the world championship, so we have nothing to lose. Definitely, it’ll be maximum attack tomorrow.”
#22 Jenson Button
FP3 13th 1m15.023s (+1.104s) 17 laps
Q1 10th 1m14.755s (on Options)
Q2 12th overall 1m14.437s (on Options)
“Sitting on the cusp of the top 10 is essentially where we are right now – and it’s where we’ve been for the past few races. Still, this is a circuit on which we hadn’t anticipated being as competitive as we were in Monaco, so there are definitely positives to take from today.
“On my final Q2 lap, I didn’t get a tow down the back straight, and Fernando did – he got a tow from me! – so, up until the last sector, it was looking good for Q3, but then I didn’t get the tow and lost out.
“If it’s dry tomorrow, I’ll be starting on new tyres and will be aiming to make the best of it and score some points. If it’s wet, we’ll just have to see what happens; the weather can really mix things up, and we’ve shown our strengths in making the tyres work and choosing the right strategy, so there’s plenty to look forward to.”
McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“Fernando did a very good job to get into Q3 this afternoon – the third consecutive grand prix weekend in which we’ve made it through to the final stages of qualifying.
“Jenson missed out on a Q3 appearance by just 0.177s, and will start tomorrow’s race from P12.
“Both drivers were happy with the balance of their cars, and it’s clear that the work we’re doing between races is paying dividends – albeit little by little. Specifically, the new turbocharger that Honda has brought to this race has conferred the deployment improvements it was designed to deliver, while our new Esso fuel is worth a tenth of a second per lap on its own. So I want to offer thanks and congrats to both those partners.
“Rain is forecast for tomorrow – and, although a dry race is always easier to manage, both our drivers have proven themselves time and time again to be masters of tricky weather conditions. They’ve both won here before – Fernando in the dry in 2006 and Jenson in the wet in 2011 – and no-one who saw it will ever forget that storming charge to victory in torrential rain here five years ago.
“A McLaren-Honda victory is of course not on the menu for tomorrow, but you may be well sure that both Fernando and Jenson, and of course the team as well, will nonetheless approach the race with our customary measured verve.”
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Today’s qualifying is a positive result for us, especially considering that Fernando was able to make Q3 consecutively in Spain, Monaco and Canada, which are all technical tracks but with completely different characteristics. Jenson missed Q3 by a small margin, but strategically he has the freedom to choose his start tyres, so we are hoping that we can use this to our benefit.
“We know that this track is very tough on braking so tomorrow will be a challenging and long race, but our updated turbo’s performance has been consistent and the car balance has been good all weekend, so we are looking forward to the race.”