Fernando Alonso: “Our qualifying performance was worse than we expected”

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Fernando Alonso says that the McLaren F1 Team‘s result in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix was ‘worse than we expected.’

Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne qualified in thirteenth and fourteenth place respectively for Sunday’s race at the Bahrain International Circuit, despite having shown good pace throughout the practice sessions.

Today wasn’t great – our qualifying performance was worse than we expected,” said two-time world champion after the session.

“It was okay in free practice, but then in qualifying we lost speed and were struggling in Q1.  Our one-lap performance is not yet optimised – we cannot extract the maximum from the tyres over one lap, and need to find the reasons why.”

Despite not getting a car into Q3, Alonso was confident that McLaren could score points, as it did in Australia from a similar situation.

“We didn’t make Q3 in Australia either, but on Sunday we both scored points, so hopefully we can repeat that here,” explained the 36-year-old.

The exit in Q2 for both McLaren’s came as a shock to the team, given that practice pace had pointed towards at least one car making the final segment of qualifying.

And despite the disappointment of Saturday, Alonso highlighted the fact that ‘our race pace has been better than our pace over a single lap so far, and during the long runs on old tyres we felt quite competitive.’

During FP2, when the teams conducted their long run race simulations Alonso placed ninth, indicating that his suggestion of McLaren lacking over a single lap was correct.

“We seem to take good care of the rear tyres, which is going to be an advantage in the race – but obviously our starting position is compromised, so we’ll see what we can do,” said Alonso.

“This is a demanding circuit, tyre degradation is high and reliability is a concern, so we need to stay focussed and take advantage of the strategy.”

Because both Alonso and Vandoorne did not make Q3, both get a free choice of Pirelli tyre to start the race with, with Alonso believing this factor could help McLaren climb into the points paying positions.

“The free choice of tyres now gives us some advantages and we’ll try to maximise that,” he explained. “The race is tomorrow and that’s when the points are given.”