Italian GP: Qualifying team notes - McLaren


Despite threats of rain after a wet morning, the final free practice session was run in dry conditions, albeit with patches of damp track at the start. Fernando finished in 17th position, with Stoffel less than one tenth behind him in 18th. The session went smoothly for both drivers, who spent the hour setting up the car for qualifying, preparing for the race and practising using each other's tow.

Qualifying was extremely close from the outset, and by the end of Q1 only just over two tenths of a second separated the final 10 cars in the pecking order. Both drivers executed the tow they had practised, which didn't pay off quite as well for Stoffel as it did for Fernando. Stoffel finished at the tail-end of the tight pack, qualifying in 20th, while Fernando managed to squeeze through into Q2 in 14th place. Stoffel will start from 17th tomorrow due to penalties for other drivers.

In Q2, the field was once again very close and it looked possible that Fernando might make it through to Q3. However, he was blocked by traffic on his final run and was unable to set a faster time. He will start tomorrow's race from 13th position.

Fernando Alonso: "After yesterday's poor performance we were expecting a tough Q1, but the team made a lot of changes overnight and the car was faster today. Starting tomorrow in P13 is a good surprise, and unthinkable a couple of hours ago.

"I'm a bit worried tomorrow we might come back to reality and struggle in the race, but let's see how it goes. We start in a position close to the points, so with a good start and a good strategy anything could happen.

"At the end of Q2, we had a strange situation. We were a few cars together on the out-lap, trying to find the gap between each other and trying to prepare the tyres. At the very last moment, on the inside of the Parabolica, Kevin [Magnussen] decided to overtake me and fill the gap between my car and the car in front of me. In Parabolica you normally launch the out-lap and start accelerating, but we arrived together into Turn One and we both lost the lap.

"It doesn't change much for me, because I think the position I am in is what I deserve, but definitely for him it's a shame because he could be in Q3, looking at his team-mate's position."

Stoffel Vandoorne: "It was extremely close in Q1 today and we saw 10 cars within almost two tenths. We maybe didn't extract the maximum out of the slipstream we were trying to play. The possibility was there to progress to Q2, so it's a shame to miss out by a few hundredths. On the other hand, we looked very far away from even thinking about that yesterday. We were on the back foot and quite far away even from the nearest competitor, so today was a step forward.

"We made some drastic changes compared to yesterday and they definitely look like they've gone in the right direction. The feeling in the car is still more or less the same, but we gained a little bit of straight-line performance. We've definitely progressed a little bit today.

"We'll see what we can do tomorrow. There's still a lot of work ahead of us and we're not where we need to be, so we're expecting a tough race. Overtaking around here has never been that easy. The race is going to be long and there's not really much we can do with strategy as it's an easy one-stop race.

"There are a couple of guys who have penalties and are out of position, and to score points we always know we need to be a little bit lucky or for something to happen, so I hope the race will be full of action."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Overall it was a positive day for us and we feel that overnight we improved our competitiveness. Obviously, the ultimate lap-time was highly dependent on track position, and in the end it was a shame that we didn't get a clean run in Q2 with Fernando.

"Regardless, we're starting in a decent place that hopefully will put us in a position to fight hard for some points tomorrow.

"Even though this is qualifying day and more excitement is still to come, the atmosphere here in Monza is absolutely electric and I can't wait until tomorrow."

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Published: 01/09/2018
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