For the first time in 2015, both McLaren-Honda drivers made it through into the second part of qualifying, with Fernando Alonso thirteenth and Jenson Button fourteenth at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Home hero Alonso was positive following qualifying, insisting the team are beginning to unlock the potential of the MP4/30 after its troubled start to the season. He knows that finishing ninth or tenth isn’t the true ambition of the team, but feels that securing the first points for McLaren in 2015 would go a long way towards keeping the mechanics and engineers motivated.
“This is the first time both McLaren-Hondas have got into Q2 this season, so we’re definitely unlocking more of the car’s potential, and there’ll be more to come in the next couple of races,” insisted Alonso.
“Still, this is another step forward, and I hope we can fight for points tomorrow. We’re starting 13th, and our tyre management looks quite good, so I think it’s realistic to look at getting into the top 10, but we’ll need to attack throughout the race.
”To be honest, however, scoring one or two points tomorrow isn’t what we as a team are looking for, but it’s good for everyone’s motivation if we keep achieving tangible results – so scoring points will be a good step.”
Team-mate Button is looking forward to the race despite finding his McLaren suffer with braking issues during qualifying, and continued to insist the team were making solid progress.
“I’m a bit frustrated because we fitted new brakes for qualifying, and, every time I braked for Turn One, the car pulled to the left,” revealed Button. “On my last run in Q2, the team told me to warm the brakes in a different way, which meant they weren’t fully warmed up by the time I started my fast lap, so I had front locking for the first three corners. It felt a bit weird, so we need to look at the reasons why.
“I hope that we can be relatively competitive and have a reasonable race tomorrow. We’re making solid progress – we got both cars into Q2 on merit, without any cars ahead of us suffering any issues. That’s a positive step for the whole team.
“Yesterday, our long-run practice pace looked okay – a lot of teams turn their engines up for qualifying, and then turn them down again for the race; but we don’t have to do that, so we perhaps go into the race with a bit more potential than some of the cars ahead of us.
“I’m looking forward to the race.”