Fernando Alonso: “We didn’t expect to be too fast here”

Fernando Alonso admitted he was somewhat surprised with the performance of his McLaren-Honda during qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix after qualifying twelfth on Saturday.

The Spaniard managed to make it through to Q2, and out-qualified team-mate Jenson Button by 0.179s at Albert Park, but revealed the team did not expect to be as competitive as they showed during the qualifying session.

Alonso knew there was only one opportunity to set a good time during Q2 due to using two sets of the Supersoft Pirelli tyres to get through Q1, but was still happy with the outright result and is hopeful of a points finish on Sunday.

“The car was fantastic today,” said Alonso. “I felt very comfortable and very happy with the performance of the car all weekend.

“We didn’t expect to be too fast here because our car is still limited in performance in certain areas. But we were more competitive than we anticipated, have some new things coming for in the next few races, and we’re looking to be stronger in the future.

“Because we’d used two sets of Supersofts in Q1 – where I finished third – we only had one chance to run in Q2. On my first run I felt competitive, I was 10th, running under the same conditions and on the same rubber as everyone else; I was only 1.2s off the Mercedes, which was a nice surprise.

“Tomorrow will be interesting – hopefully we can get both cars into the points.”