Mexico GP: Qualifying team notes - McLaren


Fernando and Stoffel will start in 12th and 15th positions respectively for tomorrow's Mexican Grand Prix.

Stoffel finished 14th and Fernando 15th in this morning's final free practice session, which started slowly as the majority of the field waited for the damp track to dry out following overnight rain. As the morning was overcast, track evolution was a lot more gradual than expected, nevertheless both drivers had a productive session in preparation for qualifying.

In qualifying, both drivers put in solid laps during their two runs in Q1, although Fernando's first lap-time was deleted for exceeding track limits. On their final run both drivers left the garage at the head of the pack to give themselves clear air on track. Fernando squeezed through to Q2 in 14th position, while Stoffel narrowly missed out by just a tenth of a second as the track conditions continued to evolve. He qualified 17th but will start 15th due to penalties for other cars. In Q2, Fernando ran strongly, managing the track conditions well and avoiding traffic to qualify in 12th position.

Fernando Alonso: "My qualifying lap wasn't perfect today. I had a little bit of understeer in the high-speed corners with the last set of tyres, so I wasn't totally happy or proud of my lap. We made a few mistakes here and there and lost a couple of tenths, so when I crossed the line and they told me over the radio I was P12, realistically speaking, it was much better than we thought. After being out of Q1 in the last four races, the position we achieved today is nice, and points are a little bit closer than at previous grands prix.

"The Renault engine is working well here. It's not suffering maybe as much as the others with the altitude, and our good long-run pace yesterday leaves us quite optimistic for tomorrow.

"It's going to be an emotional race tomorrow, as we have a lot of fans here and a lot of support. It's going to be special!"

Stoffel Vandoorne: "It was actually a pretty decent qualifying effort. The times were extremely close and it's a shame to miss out on Q2 by a couple of hundredths, but it just shows how close the field is. It's a bit colder today which made it a little bit easier on the tyres. We'll see tomorrow what the race will bring - hopefully tyre degradation will continue to be a big factor, and we'll see how that pans out in the race.

"There's always a little bit you can improve - it's tricky around here because of the altitude, but it's the same for everyone. In general, I was reasonably happy with my lap and I think it was pretty close to the maximum possible today.

"We've probably been a little bit closer here this weekend than expected and I hope we can show that tomorrow. I think it gives us opportunities, especially if the tyre degradation continues as we've seen this week.

"We're going to have to be a bit lucky in order to bring home some good results. There's always chaos here on the opening laps with all those tight corners. I remember I started last here last year and I think I made up eight places on lap one, so a lot can happen and I'll try to do the same tomorrow!"

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "I think we can be relatively satisfied with our qualifying today. Of course, while you always want to occupy the front row, we do feel that this weekend we've taken a small step forward in competitiveness. The times were very close today, and a small improvement could have seen us in Q3.

"Track conditions have been quite variable throughout the weekend, and tyre degradation will be a key factor in the race tomorrow. With this in mind, I feel both our starting positions and tyre allocation put us in good stead for a strong race."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Mexico City, here.

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Published: 27/10/2018
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