After what can only be described as a terrible several season long run of form for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, there were the first major signs of progress during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso didn’t just have his birthday to celebrate today – he also managed to put the car into eighth position for the race tomorrow, which, thanks to a five place grid penalty for Nico Hulkenberg, has been upgraded to seventh.
Last year, Alonso finished every session in seventh at the Hungaroring, so it could be said that he feels at home there. Nevertheless, it is promising development for the team, as for the first time this year, the both McLaren drivers made it into, and completed Q3.
“It’s been a positive weekend so far for us as a team,” commented the Spaniard. “We knew the top three teams would effectively be out of reach, so fighting for seventh and eighth was the maximum target we could aim for today. And, indeed, that’s where we’ll start tomorrow.”
“There are no points to gain on Saturday, so hopefully we can convert those positions in the race and score some good points. They’re very much needed by the team at the moment.”
It was expected that relative to other circuits, the McLaren would be stronger around the Hungaroring due to the fact that their power deficit is not as substantial here. In fact, the running today highlighted the suggestion that the team have one of the better chassis on the grid, and that the root of their issues comes from their power unit.
“In terms of race pace, we should be okay. This is a circuit where it’s difficult to overtake; the tyres are very stable and have low degradation so I think that, if we have a good start, we should have a good chance to maintain our positions – that’s the target for tomorrow.”