Fernando Alonso revealed that he did not know what to expect coming to the Circuit of The Americas this weekend, and thought it was a pleasant surprise to qualify inside the top ten on Saturday.
The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer, who signed an extension to his contract with the Woking-based team earlier this week, initially qualified in ninth position, but will move up one position once Max Verstappen takes his unscheduled engine change grid penalty, with Alonso feeling that the lower than expected grip levels that have faced this weekend at the Circuit of The Americas have suited his MCL32.
“We had some concerns before coming here about how competitive we could be, but we put the car on track and immediately performed quite well, being in the top 10 in every single session, and that was a nice surprise,” said Alonso. “We also brought some updates here and they are working fine.
“The car felt great today. We had difficult conditions out there – it was very hot and windy in qualifying and the grip level was lower than we expected. In those conditions our car performs extremely well, so our lap in Q2 was good and we were able to make it into Q3, with ninth place overall.”
Alonso feels that he can be in with a chance of scoring points on Sunday, and having secured his future with McLaren into 2018 and beyond earlier this week, the Spaniard would welcome what would be only his third finish inside the top ten this season.
“Tomorrow we’ll start eighth, due to Verstappen’s penalty, so I think it’s a great chance to score points,” said Alonso.
“We know we still have a deficit on the straights compared to other teams and we’ll probably be a little exposed on the first lap because we’re in a group, but after the first lap has settled I think we could open up the gap in the high-speed section and maybe defend a little bit better.
“We’re definitely happy to race here in front of the US fans and I think they’ll see a great race tomorrow!”