Stoffel Vandoorne was not too downbeat to miss out on the top ten shoot-out at the Suzuka International Racing Course on Saturday, as it means a free choice of tyre for the race start.
Having missed out on the top ten by just 0.029 seconds to team-mate Fernando Alonso, Vandoorne was set to start eleventh, but a grid penalty for the Spaniard moves him up into the top ten, and he advances to ninth on the grid due to Kimi Raikkonen’s gearbox penalty.
The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer is on a great run of form, finishing seventh in the last two races in Singapore and Malaysia, and he will need to decide overnight on which strategy to use as he bids for a third consecutive points finish.
“That was actually a pretty good session for me,” admitted Vandoorne. “Not getting through into Q3 isn’t actually that bad because it means I can start the race on a new tyre tomorrow. Starting from eight/ninth is pretty decent, and, on a new tyre, it should make for a good day.
“The limited running we’ve had so far this weekend has been the same for everyone, but we’re usually pretty strong at working out what the tyres are going to do, how long they’re going to last, and how to manage them efficiently. We’ll definitely be looking to benefit from that tomorrow.
“It still looks quite hard to decide between a one- and two-stop strategy, so we’ll also try to use that to our advantage. We’re not in a bad place – we can definitely race from this position.”