Formula 1

Alonso expected McLaren struggles in France qualifying

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Fernando Alonso - McLaren F1 Team
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

McLaren F1 Team‘s qualifying result for Formula 1’s French Grand Prix was ‘expected’, according to driver Fernando Alonso, who could only manage sixteenth on the grid at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Just a week after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota Gazoo Racing, Alonso struggled for pace in the first eighteen-minute qualifying segment at Le Castellet, and he could and could only manage a spot on the eighth row of the grid for Formula 1’s first race in France for a decade.

Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne also failed to advance into Q2, lapping two tenths slower than Alonso and securing an eighteenth placed grid slot ahead of tomorrow’s race.

In a week where it has been claimed that McLaren staff have lost faith in senior team personnel following a poor start to the season, the qualifying result did little to improve the morale.

The team’s MCL33 chassis is known to have a problem with carrying too much drag.  A recent major nose and front wing upgrade delivered in Barcelona, has thus far failed to move the team closer to the front of the midfield, leading to the apparent tensions within the team.

Our performance has usually been so-so on Saturday’s, with our average position in qualifying so far this year being thirteenth,” explained double world champion Alonso.  “That said, I have scored point in every single race that I have finished, and hopefully tomorrow will be one of those Sunday’s.”

After picking up thirty-two points from the opening five grands prix, Alonso has failed to score points since his home race in Spain in May.

There was nothing wrong with the balance of the car today,” said Alonso.  “Our lap-time was just not quick enough to make it into Q2. It was a disappointing session for us.

“In our pre-quali meeting, we said we thought we would be around fourteenth or fifteenth, so this is more or less where we expected to finish.  We know where we are, and, unfortunately [we] need to keep improving.”

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Jake Nichol is a motorsport journalist writing about the Formula 1 world championship for The Checkered Flag. He is currently freelancing for Autosport, where his work includes IndyCar, NASCAR and UK-wide national race meetings.
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