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2017 F1

Alonso: McLaren need help from weather and rivals encounter trouble

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Fernando Alonso gave it everything in qualifying this evening to line up in 13th position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. The Spaniard underlined his legendary pace by setting 12th-quickest time in Q1 before setting a best time of 1m25.425s at the end of the Q2 session.

ALONSO: “After the difficulties we encountered in winter testing, we came to Melbourne without a clear idea of where we stood. But we’ve more or less run through all the sessions without trouble – which is better than we’d expected.

“I had sufficient sets of tyres to be able to enjoy my laps in both Q1 and Q2. I was happy with the balance of the car and was able to really push it. That’s useful because, at the moment, we need to extract the maximum out of the package we have.

“Tomorrow we’ll start 13th – in the middle of the pack – which is definitely not our target. Finishing the race is going to be tough. And, if we do finish it, to end up in a decent position we’ll need help from the weather and for other cars to encounter trouble.”

ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren-Honda Racing Director: “Fernando showed all his experience this afternoon, and coupled it with his undiminished natural speed, to carve a perfect lap whose verve and fluidity deserved better than P13. But in truth that’s all our car is capable of delivering at the moment, and Fernando produced it all. Bravo.

YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: “Today’s qualifying was important because it gave us the first chance to judge our current position on track compared to our competitors. And although P13 and P18 is not where we want to be this season, after such a tough winter testing we can be relatively satisfied with our improvement.

“Fernando drove incredibly to extract everything out of the car, and Stoffel handled the pressure of qualifying extremely well despite having issues throughout the session. We are very lucky to have two such talented drivers in our team.

“Hopefully we will have a good start to the race tomorrow and we will have the opportunity to fight for points in the race. We know anything can happen, and you can be sure our drivers will be ready to grab any opportunity thrown their way.”

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