McLaren F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso ‘wasn’t proud’ with his efforts in Formula 1 qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix, despite advancing from Q1 for the first time in four Grands Prix.
Two-time world champion Alonso, who will leave F1 at the end of the season, narrowly made it through to the second stage of qualifying for the first time since the Singapore Grand Prix, and posted the twelfth quickest lap time, a 1m:16.871 on the Hypersoft Pirelli tyre.
But despite splitting the Racing Point Force India F1 Team cars and earning himself the right to start on whatever tyres he wants in the race, the Spanish driver was still unhappy at his own efforts.
“My qualifying lap wasn’t perfect today,” he said. “I had a little bit of understeer in the high-speed corners with the last set of tyres, so I wasn’t totally happy or proud of my lap.
“We made a few mistakes here and there and lost a couple of tenths, so I when crossed the line and they told me I was P12, realistically speaking, it was much better than we thought.
“After being out of Q1 in the last four races, the position we achieved today is nice, and points are a little bit closer than at previous grands prix.”
Renault power unit performing
As Mexico City is 2000m above sea-level there is twenty-five per cent less air available for the power units to use than at a majority of other F1 circuits. The reduction in the quantity of air available also means that downforce levels are akin to what is seen at Monza, despite the teams running Monaco-style wings.
This combination allowed the Renault-powered Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team to lock-out the front row for the first time in the turbo hybrid era, while the works Renault Sport Formula 1 Team locked out the fourth row.
McLaren, the third Renault powered team on the grid has suffered with a car that has too much drag for most of the season, and as such has been unable to reach match the similarly powered teams for performance. However, Alonso is still confident that he can score points for the first time since his seventh-place finish in Singapore.
“The Renault engine is working well here, it is not suffering maybe as much as the others with the altitude,” he explained. “Our good long-run pace on Friday leaves us quite optimistic for the race.”
Alonso’s team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne extended his run of failing to out-qualify the twenty-two-time grand prix winner for the first time since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix. The Belgian driver could only manage seventeenth fastest in Q1, although he was just over a tenth slower than Alonso. He will start fifteenth after grid penalties for Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly.