Alonso to start Malaysian GP from back of the grid

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Fernando Alonso is frustrated that after a strong performance on Friday, he will start the Malaysian Grand Prix at the back of the grid due to a 45-place grid penalty.

The McLaren-Honda driver had a strong start on Friday after receiving an upgraded Honda engine. He finished Free Practice 1 in fifth and then the second session in seventh, both times ahead of team-mate Jenson Button. For FP3, Alonso returned to the old engine, focusing on refining his race set-up and running race simulations.

Alonso will not race on Sunday at the Sepang International Circuit with the upgraded engine. He only briefly ran in qualifying to make sure he set a time within 107% of the Q1 fastest time to ensure he qualified for the Grand Prix, with the main aim of saving the most tyres as possible for the race.

The Spaniard believes while it will be difficult to overtake twelve cars to reach the points, he thinks there is still something more to come from McLaren.

“In practice yesterday, we were comfortably inside the top 10,” said Alonso. “So there’s an element of frustration to find ourselves with useful performance, but facing a grid penalty ahead of the race.

“Hopefully, we’ve now stockpiled enough components for the remainder of the season that we no longer need to take grid penalties and start at the back. My running in FP3 this morning was particularly important – our aim was to conduct some long runs and gain some useful data for the race. In quali, we just ran for a few laps, with the aim to save as many sets of tyres for the race as we could.

“It’ll be interesting tomorrow to see how well we’re able to read the conditions and play the strategy. The new asphalt keeps improving quickly and, while it’ll be difficult to overtake 12 cars and get into the points, I think there’s still something more to come from us tomorrow.”