“A PLEASANT SURPRISE”
Stoffel Vandoorne will start the Malaysian Grand Prix from a career-best position of seventh. His team-mate Fernando Alonso joined the Belgian in Q3, and will line up 10th on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
FP3 14th 1m33.530s (+1.650s) 17 laps
Q1 15th 1m33.049s (on Options)
Q2 10th 1m32.010s (on Options)
Q3 10th overall* 1m31.704s (on Options)
“I’m satisfied with this result, and with how the weekend has gone in general, but it’s going to be tough to maintain our qualifying position tomorrow. We know that our race pace is not as strong as our qualifying pace, so we’ll probably struggle a little bit more if conditions remain dry.
“However, maybe some rain will affect the race – some mixed conditions would improve things for us.
“I think performance was there for us this weekend, and getting both cars in Q3 on this circuit is a very good sign. The new parts we brought here worked well yesterday but maybe didn’t work as well today, so we will have a close look to that.
“It’s a very close field: it’s going to be tough to maintain our position tomorrow, but we’ll do our best, as always.”
FP3 10th 1m33.321s (+1.441s) 16 laps
Q1 13th 1m32.838s (on Options)
Q2 9th 1m31.848s (on Options)
Q3 7th overall* 1m31.582s (on Options)
“We weren’t really expecting to be so high up the grid. We’d hoped to get into Q3, but fighting for seventh was a pleasant surprise.
“In fact, my whole qualifying session went really well. I didn’t make any mistakes and pulled every sector on every lap. To qualify seventh on a circuit like this is probably about as good as it gets for us, so I’m very happy with my performance.
“We generally tend to be better over a single lap than across a race stint, so I think tomorrow will be tougher for us, but at least we’re in a position to race. And nobody really has any race preparation runs under their belts [due to yesterday’s FP2 red flag], so hopefully we can go into the race a little bit more prepared than the others and benefit from that.
“Hopefully we can make a race of it tomorrow.”
McLAREN HONDA RACING DIRECTOR
“Both drivers have worked very well together to develop and refine our car package across the weekend, and today’s qualifying result really justifies their efforts.
“Stoffel has driven superbly all weekend, and absolutely nailed it in all three qualifying sessions, achieving his best F1 qualifying position so far. Fernando wasn’t particularly happy with his final lap, but he still has a very good opportunity for tomorrow.
“Everyone’s preparations for the race have been affected by the weather and yesterday’s shortened practice sessions. We know we might not be as rapid in the race as we were in qualifying, but we’re aware that there are a lot of questions marks still remaining about everyone’s race pace.
“That’ll hopefully make the grand prix more interesting and unpredictable, and we’ll certainly be hoping to profit from that uncertainty tomorrow.”
HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER
“Today was a very positive day for everyone in the team. After yesterday’s unstable weather, today’s conditions were boiling hot temperatures with bright sunshine – the complete opposite to yesterday – therefore during FP3 this morning we focused on adjusting the settings ready for qualifying.
“In qualifying, both of our drivers did a great job to secure their positions in Q3. Stoffel in particular showed a great performance with P7, the best qualifying result of his career to date. I think it is a very good result that we were able to show competitiveness at this power-hungry circuit.
“Once again we did not have any issues on our PU today and we’ll try our best effort to maintain this condition in tomorrow’s race.”