“A GENUINELY BRILLIANT QUALIFYING EFFORT”
Fernando Alonso wrung the absolute maximum from his car in qualifying this afternoon to line up sixth on the grid for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Spaniard had looked a top-10 contender all weekend, and set the sixth-fastest time in Q2 and the seventh-quickest lap in Q3. He gains one place on the grid due to fifth-fastest Daniel Ricciardo’s 10-place starting penalty.
Stoffel will line up 12th (he qualified 13th, but also benefits from Ricciardo’s penalty), but, affected by overnight food poisoning, was unable to extract the decisive final tenths from his car.
With dry and sunny weather forecast for tomorrow’s race, it may prove difficult to move forwards in the grand prix, but both drivers are confident of strong race pace tomorrow.
FP3 6th 1m10.288s (+1.007s) 15 laps
Q1 11th 1m10.172s (on Options)
Q2 6th 1m09.593s (on Options)
Q3 7th overall* 1m09.617s (on Options)
* will start 6th due to a 10-place PU grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo
“I’m happy with P7 today, particularly because it was a difficult qualifying. Conditions were very tricky: you see drops of rain on the visor, and that takes some confidence away even when the asphalt is completely dry. So you have to trust what the car is doing, and commit to the corner even though your mind is saying something different.
“Yesterday, we weren’t completely happy with the balance of the car and with the performance, but today the car stepped up and we were more competitive.
“P6 is a fantastic starting position for scoring points, but we know that Hamilton and Ricciardo will come back very strongly tomorrow. I’ll try to defend as much as I can even though tomorrow we expect a very sunny day and completely dry conditions, so it’s not going to be easy to hold on to our position.
“A little bit of rain is always welcome for us. We seem to be more competitive in damp conditions, but being in the top 10 tomorrow is our goal. Saturday has been great, let’s see what Sunday brings.”
FP3 11th 1m10.495s (+1.356s) 21 laps
Q1 13th 1m10.286s (on Options)
Q2 13th overall* 1m10.116s (on Options)
* will start 12th due to a 10-place PU grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo
“I’m not 100 per cent satisfied with today – it was a bit of a strange session for us. My qualifying started well and I had good rhythm straight away in Q1. I had decent pace and I was going quicker with each run. In Q2, I had some difficulties getting the tyres to work and I’m not sure why that is. With the final set of tyres on my last run we didn’t really manage to improve, and we need to delve into the data later to see if we can work out why.
“It’s been very difficult to predict the weather this weekend. It’s always a bit better for us when the weather is mixed-up, so we’ll have to wait and see what the conditions are like tomorrow. We’re starting 12th so let’s see what’s possible.
“If I reflect back on Friday, our long-run performance looked quite strong, so hopefully we can take those positives into the race. We know it’s always difficult for us to overtake, but from where we’re starting there’s always a chance for points. If we can get a good start and drive the perfect race maybe it will be possible.”
McLAREN HONDA RACING DIRECTOR
“Fernando’s qualifying effort was genuinely brilliant today. He has looked fantastically committed all weekend, and has been really flinging his car around this track with incredible passion and dedication. His seventh position (sixth on the grid) was a genuine reflection of the car’s pace; he’s been in the top 10 all weekend, and, once he’d dialled out the understeer that had been affecting the balance, was able to demonstrate all our potential this afternoon.
“Starting from sixth, and mindful of the promising pace we showed yesterday in our race simulation runs, we think he’s set for a good showing tomorrow.
“Stoffel has been stoically soldiering on despite suffering from overnight food poisoning. That’s understandably taken its toll on him, but he still drove well. Without a perfectly balanced car, it can be tricky to get a perfect lap around here, and Stoffel felt he didn’t quite manage to find that sweet-spot today.
“Nevertheless, he too feels the potential in the car and will be pushing like crazy tomorrow.”
HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER
“As today’s temperature went down compared to yesterday, we needed to adjust our settings in the final practice session in order to be best prepared for qualifying this afternoon.
“Fernando has been looking competitive all day, and had a strong run to take P7 in qualifying. Once race penalties have been applied, he will start the race from P6. His performance was brilliant today.
“It is Stoffel’s first race weekend at this technical circuit, and therefore it is quite a tricky challenge. I think P13 is a good result considering this.
“We had a smooth day with our PU today and I feel our competitiveness has improved as a team in the last couple of races. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and hopefully we can continue this good momentum.”