Alonso: P13, being close to the points zone was our target after...

Alonso: P13, being close to the points zone was our target after all

Fernando Alonso
photo: Steven Tee/McLaren

During an interrupted final practice session due to a red flag, both McLaren drivers made the most of the limited track time to tweak their set-ups ahead of qualifying. Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were the only two in the pit-lane to run on the Prime tyre, opting to save their Options for qualifying. Alonso finished in 13th and Stoffel in 18th.

After the two drivers split their strategies for set-up in yesterday’s free practice sessions, the team opted to swap Stoffel’s configuration to match the other car, but he didn’t feel comfortable during either track session today and was unable to find a workable balance. He qualified in 17th position.

Alonso reported a more positive feeling with the set-up in both sessions and comfortably passed through into Q2, ultimately qualifying in 13th.

Fernando Alonso

“This weekend, in general, has been good so far and qualifying has also proved to be okay. We’re still missing a couple of tenths, but P13, being close to the points zone and starting on the clean side was our target after all, and we reached that.

“Saturday seems to be our lowest point of the weekend, as we always seem to qualify around P13, but then we improve on Sundays, so let’s aim for that tomorrow and see how the race develops.

“We know this track is demanding aerodynamically. It’s a very long circuit where you need both efficiency and power, so it’s quite complex, but we will fight tomorrow.

“The start will be crucial – here it’s difficult to follow other cars due to the high-speed corners, so positions on the first lap are quite important, and after that a good strategy and good tyre management. It’s quite warm, and for those on a one-stop strategy the degradation is going to be high, so we need to keep our concentration and hopefully, we can score some points.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“We definitely could have got more out of the car today. We had a bad FP3. There wasn’t a good feeling in the car and I really struggled for grip. We couldn’t get any decent laps in – it was difficult to push and we didn’t have any real pace, so it’s a shame to come out of qualifying like this.

“Since this morning we’ve had a big issue with the handling which made the car feel almost undriveable. We need to understand why that happened and what went wrong. Clearly, the other car seems to have some pace, so it’s been a pretty difficult and frustrating day.

“I think generally we were in much better shape than we looked today. After yesterday, there was an explanation as to why the cars were performing quite differently, so this morning we made both set-ups the same but something didn’t feel right in the car at all and we weren’t able to find what the problem was before qualifying. In quali too it felt pretty bad, and there was nothing more we could do.

“I hope we can figure it out for tomorrow.”