Fernando Alonso admitted the McLaren F1 Team just did not have the pace to make it through to the top ten shootout at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday, with the Spaniard and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne set to start thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.
The team are still seeking their first top ten visit in 2018, and after finishing ninth in the first phase of Qualifying, Alonso admitted he thought he could make it through, only to lose out by 0.262 seconds.
“We didn’t have the pace to make it into Q3 today,” said Alonso. “After we were P9 in Q1, we were a little bit more optimistic and thought we could make it into the top 10, but then in Q2 we weren’t quick enough.
“We were P11 in Australia, P13 in Bahrain and here, and that’s where we are at the moment for qualifying. Not enough, we know, as we seem to be slow on the straights, but we have the potential to improve that.”
The positive for Alonso with the early elimination is that the Spaniard will be able to choose which of Pirelli’s three available compounds to start on, and he feels the Ultrasoft, which he would have had to start on should he had made the top ten, may not be the best option at the start.
“Anyway, making it into Q3 would’ve meant starting the race tomorrow on Ultrasoft tyres, which I believe will degrade quite quickly on a hotter track due to the sunny weather forecast for tomorrow,” said the Spaniard. “So, in the end, I’m happy with P13 and a free choice of tyres.
“Our race pace is a little bit better than our quali pace, so by taking good care of the tyres, and with a good start and a good strategy, points are still very possible for us.”