Alonso targets first points for McLaren Honda

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button qualified 13th and 14th for the Spanish Grand Prix, suggesting the team is making solid improvements step by step. The progress into Q2 also triggered Alonso to target scoring the team's first points of the season in his home race.

Both drivers used the Option tyre for Q1, with Fernando aborting his second run to rely on his first lap of 1m27.941s to squeeze into the second session. They then ran used Options for their Q2 sighting laps in Q2 before running fresher rubber at the very end of the session. On his final lap, Fernando suffered a brief wobble through Turn Eight, and once again fell back on his earlier laptime. Jenson suffered a braking issue in the session – the car pulled to the left under braking for Turn One – but he improved to a 1m27.854s on his final Q2 run.

With long-run potential looking good, the team is optimistic of moving forwards in the race tomorrow.

Fernando Alonso, MP4-30-03, 13th: “This is the first time both McLaren-Hondas have got into Q2 this season, so we’re definitely unlocking more of the car’s potential, and there’ll be more to come in the next couple of races.

“Still, this is another step forward, and I hope we can fight for points tomorrow. We’re starting 13th, and our tyre management looks quite good, so I think it’s realistic to look at getting into the top 10, but we’ll need to attack throughout the race.

”To be honest, however, scoring one or two points tomorrow isn’t what we as a team are looking for, but it’s good for everyone’s motivation if we keep achieving tangible results – so scoring points will be a good step.”

Jenson Button, MP4-30-01, 14th: “I’m a bit frustrated because we fitted new brakes for qualifying, and, every time I braked for Turn One, the car pulled to the left. On my last run in Q2, the team told me to warm the brakes in a different way, which meant they weren’t fully warmed up by the time I started my fast lap, so I had front locking for the first three corners. It felt a bit weird, so we need to look at the reasons why.

“I hope that we can be relatively competitive and have a reasonable race tomorrow. We’re making solid progress – we got both cars into Q2 on merit, without any cars ahead of us suffering any issues. That’s a positive step for the whole team.

“Yesterday, our long-run practice pace looked okay – a lot of teams turn their engines up for qualifying, and then turn them down again for the race; but we don’t have to do that, so we perhaps go into the race with a bit more potential than some of the cars ahead of us. I’m looking forward to the race.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda: “Compared with where we were at the beginning of the season, this afternoon’s qualifying performance clearly indicates the continuing steady improvement we’ve been working so hard to achieve.

“No, we aren’t remotely satisfied with P13 and P14, and we never will be. But our target for today was to get both cars through to Q2, and we achieved that.

“We have a busy evening ahead of us, with plenty of data to study. Tomorrow, our ambition is to score our first world championship points of the season. That isn’t a promise, but, yes, it’s our objective.”

Yasuhisha Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport: "We’ve been working hard to improve the low- to mid-speed output on the power unit, but unfortunately we couldn’t bring everything together for qualifying. It’s disappointing, but we know that our race-pace simulation during FP2 went well yesterday, so we hope that we’ll be able to improve our positions during tomorrow’s race.”