A deployment issue during Fernando Alonso’s final run during the second part of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix denied the Spaniard a possible appearance in the top-ten shootout, but even eleventh on the grid feels like a big deal for the beleaguered McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team.
Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne attempted to make the most of the Belgian’s extensive grid penalties to give the Spaniard the best opportunity to advance by giving him a tow down the Kemmel Straight, and it appeared to be working as the underpowered McLaren was within four-tenths of a second in the first sector, which is very power dependant.
But the deployment issue cost him valuable time in the middle sector, and as a result he backed out of the lap, missing out on the top ten by the smallest of margins, finishing just 0.084 seconds behind Esteban Ocon.
“In the end, today was a positive day for us, if you look at the overall performance,” said Alonso. “We were 1.5 seconds from P1 in Q2, and this for us is like pole position. However, at the end of the lap, because of an issue we didn’t manage to make it into Q3, but it could have been possible today.
“The team did a great job and we tried to take benefit from Stoffel’s penalty to help the other car take some slipstream on the straights. But, at the wrong time – in the last attempt in Q2 – we had a problem with the deployment, and I lost six tenths between Turns 11 and 12, so I aborted the lap because it was no longer possible to improve.
“We’ll start from P11 tomorrow – which here in Spa is a bit of a surprise for us anyway – and maybe being on new tyres and choosing the compound is better than starting 10th.”