Fernando Alonso believes the McLaren F1 Team “maximised” its MCL33 package in qualifying for Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix, despite failing to advance to the Q3 shootout.
After a strong start to the season in which he scored 32 points in five races, Alonso has failed to score a point since May’s Spanish Grand Prix, and was classified last in the French Grand Prix.
Despite power unit supplier Renault introducing new so-called ‘party modes’ in qualifying for the first time, McLaren was the only Renault powered team to fail to get a car into Q3, as both cars from the Renault Sport Formula One Team and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing teams did.
Alonso’s best time in Q2 was a 1m05.058s, which was fourteenth fastest in the second segment of qualifying. However, after Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team’s Charles Leclerc received a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, Alonso will start thirteenth.
“We did our best in qualifying today, and I think we maximised the package,” remarked the double world champion, “but this is not where we want to be.”
“Tomorrow, we need to aim for points by thinking about the best strategy. We have a free choice of starting-tyre and all possibilities are open for us. I’m relatively optimistic.”
Alonso’s Q2 lap-time was fractionally slower than his effort in Q1, which the Spaniard apportioned to attempting to make up time in the final two corners.
“On my final lap, I was two tenths slower than on my previous lap; for the final two corners, I said to myself, ‘let’s try and do this flat out, in case I can recover those tenths’ but that was over the limit…
“We had some fun today and the car was good to drive, but this still isn’t the position we want, and we need to keep improving.”
Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne will start in seventeenth, after failing to progress from Q1 and maintaining his record of not out-qualifying Alonso so far this season.