McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team‘s Fernando Alonso was pushed out of the top ten in the last moments of Q2 by Felipe Massa, but the Spaniard saw this as a positive, as by starting eleventh he will have free choice of tyres for the race at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Both he and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne looked to have promising pace in Free Practice 3 earlier in the day, but ultimately neither driver was able to make it through into the last part of qualifying. Alonso commented that he extracted the absolute maximum out of the car, but in such a tight midfield pack, the power deficiency of the Honda held them back.
“I’m happy with eleventh – it’s what we deserved today. I don’t think we were super-quick in qualifying, and it’s not worth making it into Q3 to be ninth or tenth and then start on a scrubbed set, when the guy just behind you can start on fresh tyres,” commented Alonso.
“Tomorrow we’ll be that guy, and we’ll take advantage of the situation. We extracted the maximum, but when we get to qualifying everyone seems to have a magic qualifying mode button for their engines, so we step back a little bit.”
The Spaniard is optimistic about their chance to score points in the race tomorrow, acknowledging their strong race pace they exhibited in the long runs during practices throughout the weekend so far.
“I’m also happy with the car balance – it has been good all weekend: we were seventh and eighth this morning and we’re looking quite competitive on the long runs, so for race pace, we should be there and tomorrow we have a good opportunity to score points,” said Alonso.
“I hope tomorrow we will put on a good show and an exciting race, especially now that there’s no pressure for anyone, and there are no championship points to fight for as nearly all positions are basically decided.”