2017 F1

Singapore race pace is always a bit of a question mark – Alonso

McLaren Honda team will start tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix from eighth (Fernando) and ninth (Stoffel) positions on the grid.

Armed with a competitive and highly drivable package, both drivers were comfortably inside the top 10 during both of today’s hour-long sessions, but slightly lost out during the Q3 shootout as faster rivals were able to stretch their advantage.

Nonetheless, the team is hopeful of scoring world championship points tomorrow.

Fernando Alonso:- “The first target of having both cars in Q3 has been achieved, so 50 per cent of the job is done. Now our second target is to get both cars in the points tomorrow, which I think is possible from these starting positions.

“Race pace here is always a bit of a question mark; it’s difficult to read. Yesterday’s long runs were not long enough and, added to the difficulty of overtaking on this track, positions will be more or less set after the first lap.

“That means we need to concentrate on making a good start and having a clean first corner. After that I’ll keep focussed and not make any mistakes. It is a very demanding race but hopefully we can bring some points home.

“The first six cars are too far away in terms of race pace, so our aim will be to defend our positions and possibly climb up to seventh.

“I hope we can complete the job tomorrow.”

Stoffel Vandoorne:- “We came into the weekend more or less expecting to get both cars into Q3, and we achieved that today.

“We were always on the pace throughout Q1 and Q2, but perhaps we lacked that little bit extra in Q3 compared to our rivals. But nonetheless it’s been a smooth and solid effort from the whole team.

“While today is a good starting point, tomorrow is where it really matters. I might be hoping for quite a few Safety Cars in the race, but I still think we can conclude the weekend on a high.”

ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director

“This is a track that we knew would play to the strengths of our package, so it was pleasing to see our drivers pushing the limits right up at the sharp end of the field.

“Getting two cars into the top 10 today sets us up well for what is always a difficult, demanding and unpredictable race. We hope to come away from it tomorrow with more valuable world championship points.

“Fernando and Stoffel have both driven outstandingly well all weekend, and it was a joy to watch them attacking this difficult and uncompromising street circuit. Likewise, the whole team has performed at an extremely high level throughout this busy Singapore GP week – whether that’s been in the sweltering pit garage, the hospitality suite or back at the factory.

“When these things come together, it’s worth emphasising that, as a race team, we operate as a singular unit, and it’s days like today that remind us what we can achieve together when we have the merest sniff of a competitive package.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“Both drivers started the day well with a solid performance in FP3, leaving us feeling positive about our car heading into qualifying this afternoon. Fernando and Stoffel then maintained their momentum, and were both able to successfully go through into Q3.

“Although we knew this was a circuit more suited to our package, it is still good that we were able to show some competitiveness and secure top 10 grid slots for the race. Despite this, we can still see a gap to the frontrunners so we will continue to make further improvements.

“We think we have decent race pace, but it’s very difficult to overtake at this track, so if we can get away well at the start we can hopefully be in the fight for points.”

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