McLaren F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso believes that by qualifying in eleventh place for Formula 1’s German Grand Prix that he secured “a small pole position.”
The double world champion narrowly advanced into the second qualifying segment at the Hockenheimring, but failed to secure a Q3 slot, after setting a 1m:13.657s time on soft compound tyres.
As a result, the Spaniard will be the highest placed driver to start on a new set of Pirelli tyres, a fact he is pleased with.
“I’m definitely happy with 11th, as it’s a small pole position for the midfield group,” said Alonso.
“Tomorrow we’ll start on the tyres we wish, and they’ll be new, so it’s a great opportunity to score points as we’re starting already close to the points zone.
“It’ll be a close fight but normally on Sundays we pick up a little bit of pace, so we’ll try to do our best and have a good race.”
Alonso would have qualified in 13th place, had it not been for ailments for both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton, but he believes that the result is a good step forward for McLaren after a turbulent period which concluded with Racing Director Eric Boullier leaving his post.
“We completed a good qualifying [and] the car is getting better; the new parts are definitely improving our performance,” he explained.
“But everyone else is making small steps every race so we keep more or less the same gap with our rivals. However, we are moving in the right direction and hopefully we can bring more and bigger upgrades to the next few races.”
Vandoorne issues still troubling team
In a contrasting weekend so far, Alonso team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne has endured a difficult weekend, branding Friday as one of the “worst” of his career.
The Belgian driver struggled for balance and grip and qualified slowest of all in 20th place, although he will start in 19th due to Ricciardo’s grid penalty.
Alonso rallied behind his under-fire team-mate, commenting that he and the team believe there to be a as yet not identified problem with Vandoorne’s chassis.
“We need both McLarens to score points so we have to find what the issue on Stoffel’s car is,” said Alonso. “It’s the second race that we’ve seen less downforce and a problem with that car.”