Fernando Alonso bounced back from Friday’s troubles to take an astonishing seventh place for McLaren and Honda in qualifying for his home race in Spain.
On Friday, Alonso lost all of FP1 to an engine failure and went off to continue his training by playing tennis, although he did get some running in the afternoon.
On a day when his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne could not better 19th place, Alonso was 12th in Q1 and then earned a place in the final session by taking 10th in Q2.
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That would already have been a satisfying final outcome, but in Q3 he beat Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon to take seventh place, behind only the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers. Afterward he joked that he had learned to go fast down the straights in his recent test at Indianapolis.
“Running in the ovals maybe I learned to go quick on the straights as well,” he said. “It was definitely a good qualifying for us, and P7 is a gift. We’ll see what we can do from here.”
“We executed well today the quali, the car was performing well, the conditions were tricky, quite windy, but I felt good with the car, confident. The last couple of laps were good enough to be in Q3, and then P7. It was close, one tenth, three or four cars, so we knew that we needed to put a perfect lap together, and today was one of thoe days when everything went our way, and everything went fine.
“I said yesterday, some weekends they start in a good way, then everything goes in the wrong direction, some weekends everything starts wrong, and whatever part in the weekend, everything gets right. I had that feeling yesterday. Today everything went right, I still have the feeling that tomorrow everything I going to be OK.”
Asked if he can hang to his position on Sunday, he said: “We’ll see. I think this is a circuit where it’s difficult to overtake, we will try to keep the position.”
Alonso remains hopeful that he will be able to finish the race.
“I’m more or less confident. Obviously I don’t have 100 percent confidence, because in four races we have four DNFs. Yesterday was a difficult day, with a lot of failures. It’s not that you go tomorrow and you are 100 percent confident. But I’m pretty sure that we will keep learning from the things that are happening to the car. I have a good feeling for tomorrow.”