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Singapore GP: Qualifying notes - McLaren

NEWS STORY
17/09/2016

A concerted effort from the McLaren-Honda engineering group transformed the team's fortunes after a difficult three practice sessions, resulting in Fernando Alonso qualifying ninth for tomorrow's Singapore Grand Prix.

Jenson Button, who had also benefited from improved grip and balance in his MP4-31, also looked destined to earn a top-10 starting position, but was unfortunate to suffer a left-rear puncture after glancing the wall on his final flying lap in Q2. He will consequently start 13th.

Fernando Alonso: "On the face of it, I'm pleased. Getting into Q3 was our first objective, but our next is to be competitive in the race. Nonetheless, our pace still wasn't great today and we struggled a little - in fact, good pace hasn't come too easily to us this weekend.

"Hopefully we can improve for tomorrow though. Race strategy will be key, and I hope things can turn around for us a bit, especially if we get a good start, attack into the first corner, and come out in a good position at the end of lap one. It might be a case of damage limitation in the race, but let's see what we can do."

Jenson Button: "Up until qualifying, our weekend had been really tough. But we made some changes to the car, and it felt really good this evening. It took a few set-up tweaks and I found my confidence, so I was able to get the best out of the car in quali.

"Then, on my final run in Q2, I went a touch wide at the exit of Turn 14 and just tapped the wall on the exit. The impact broke the left-rear wheel and gave me a puncture - it was my fault.

"It was definitely possible to get into Q3 today: my final lap in Q2 was looking very similar to Fernando's before the puncture.

"Our long-run pace means the race could be difficult for us, but there'll probably be some Safety Car periods and a bit of action, so anything could happen."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director: "Bearing in mind the problematic day we had yesterday, we recovered well today, dialling-in a decent grip level and an improved handling balance on both cars. I want to say 'bravo' to our engineers for that achievement, which they accomplished calmly and without drama overnight and earlier today.

"Jenson was unlucky to suffer a left-rear puncture following a light brush with the wall on the exit of Turn 14, the result of which was that he wasn't able to progress to Q3.

"Fernando moved through to Q3 with no such ill-fortune, and duly recorded a fast and efficient lap to end up in P9.

"Tomorrow both our drivers will enjoy the slight advantage of starting the race from the clean side of the grid - and, in what's usually a long and difficult evening's racing, they'll surely bring their great experience to bear on the task of doing their best to score world championship points. To be clear: scoring points with both cars is, of course, our aim."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: "All through the Friday and Saturday free practice sessions, both cars struggled to find overall grip, but we were able to make the most of the cars' balance in qualifying today.

"Thanks to some great driving, Fernando made it through into Q3 to finish in P9, his second-highest qualifying result of the season. Unfortunately, Jenson had an incident in Q2 putting an end to his Q3 chances, but he showed good pace in Q1 so we're hopeful that we can recover in the race tomorrow.

"Above all else, both our drivers showed their stellar driving prowess right when it counted, which led to our qualifying results today."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Singapore, here.

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1. Posted by hussainahm, 17/09/2016 20:28

"You would expect the Honda boss to be talking about the power unit rather than repeating what's already been said by the McLaren boss."

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