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Austrian GP

Alonso: McLaren in a strong position to score points

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2017 Austrian GP: Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne line up a solid 12th and 13th respectively for tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix after underlining in qualifying the promising pace they’ve thus far shown all weekend.

A position inside the top 10 was a tantalising 0.052s away from Fernando, while Stoffel was just 0.191s adrift.

Fernando’s crew switched him back to Honda’s Spec Two power unit this morning after spotting an issue with his MGU-H last night. Stoffel will remain using his Spec Three unit.

Fernando Alonso: “A positive Saturday. I feel we did the maximum today – I’m happy with our laps, our result and our performance in general this weekend.

“We had an unexpected change of engine, and I reverted back to the old spec today, so finishing P12 and feeling competitive all through quali was positive news. The team is working very hard to improve our situation: we bring aero updates to every race, we bring new engine specs whenever we can, and we’re definitely moving forwards.

“We still need to improve our reliability, but hopefully we’ll see further signs in the next couple of weeks.

“From 12th place, with a good start or a good strategy, we could be in a position to score points. There’s some possible rain forecast for tomorrow – if that turns out to be correct, it’ll probably open up more opportunities for us. We need to be ready to take them…”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “I think it’s been a pretty good weekend for us so far.

“The practice sessions have gone well and qualifying was more or less what we expected. This afternoon’s times were extremely close: it all came down to a couple of small details – with another couple of tenths, we’d have been into Q3. So today really shows that every improvement we bring to the car is very valuable – it all helps.

“We’re definitely headed in the right direction – every new piece of performance we bring is welcome, but we need to keep pushing.”

ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director

“While starting tomorrow’s grand prix from 12th and 13th feels a little disappointing after the practice pace we’ve shown at times this weekend, it’s probably a fair reflection of where we are.

“Looking at the timesheets, we were frustratingly close to getting both cars into Q3 this afternoon – and a couple more tenths would have safely moved up us into the top 10. Nevertheless, starting both cars on the fringes of the top 10 gives us an opportunity to move forwards tomorrow.

“It would be fantastic to come away from this weekend with some points – that’s certainly our ambition – and I think we’ve got a realistic chance of achieving that if we can maintain this positive direction in the race tomorrow.”

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

“We came into this weekend with two new Spec Three power units, and we were hopeful that both drivers would be able to break into Q3 in readiness to score some valuable points on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, after yesterday’s FP2 session, we detected an issue with Fernando’s MGU-H and it was necessary to change his PU back to the Spec Two to avoid penalties. Undeterred, Fernando put in a great qualifying performance, so it was disappointing that he was unable to fight for a place in Q3.

“Stoffel ran with the Spec Three today, and it was clear that he feels quite comfortable around this track and, as a result, closed the gap to Fernando. It was a shame he just missed out on the top 10, but encouraging nonetheless.

“Despite this, I think both cars are in a strong position to be able to score some points. We are expecting unstable weather tomorrow, and, as we know, anything can happen in the race, so hopefully we can capitalise on any opportunities that come our way and break into the points.”

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