Despite the knowledge that he was to drop to the rear of the field for the Japanese Grand Prix thanks to a thirty-five place grid penalty for another unscheduled engine change, Fernando Alonso felt it was important to make it a normal qualifying session with so many Honda fans present trackside.
The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer made the most of the conditions to advance to the top ten shoot-out, denying team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne by just 0.029 seconds.
Alonso feels it will be tricky to climb from the back of the field on Sunday, mainly due to the high-speed corners that offer little to those following others, and the Spaniard is hoping that things happen ahead of him so to have a chance of what would be only his third top ten finish of 2017.
“Knowing that we’d be starting last after changing the engine last night, meant qualifying wasn’t too important for us,” said Alonso. “Still, despite the penalty, we wanted to have a normal qualifying session and push; we have so many fans here – so many Honda supporters – and I think we succeeded and did a decent job.
“Of course, the race will be much different, starting form the back it’ll be quite difficult to gain any advantage, but we’ll try to do the best we can to close up to the top 10.
“Points would have been a difficult target even on a normal weekend, but since we’re starting last, on a track with so many high-speed corners where you can’t easily follow the cars in front, we’ll need a lot of action in front of us if we want to make up some positions.”