With a 45-place grid penalty for Sunday afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix, McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso’s focus was never on an outright quick-lap in qualifying.
Instead, the Spaniard spent FP3 and Q1 refining his race set-up, running race simulations in the former and a handful of quick laps in the latter.
He will line up 22nd, but armed with plenty of fresh tyres and complete freedom on strategy with which to tackle the Malaysian Grand Prix and there is absolutely no doubt that he will not be in a stronger position at the end of the first lap.
“In practice we were comfortably inside the top 10, so there’s an element of frustration to find ourselves with useful performance, but facing a grid penalty ahead of the race,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ve now stockpiled enough components for the remainder of the season that we no longer need to take grid penalties and start at the back.”
“My running in FP3 this morning was particularly important – our aim was to conduct some long runs and gain some useful data for the race. In quali, we just ran for a few laps, with the aim to save as many sets of tyres for the race as we could.”
“It’ll be interesting tomorrow to see how well we’re able to read the conditions and play the strategy. The new asphalt keeps improving quickly and, while it’ll be difficult to overtake 12 cars and get into the points, I think there’s still something more to come from us tomorrow.”