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'McLaren had the best car today', insists Alonso

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Mexican Grand Prix
© XPB 

Fernando Alonso made the bold claim that the McLaren was the best car out on track in Saturday's qualifying session for the Mexican Grand Prix.

Alonso did indeed impress with his run in the first round of qualifying at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. His time of 1:17.710s was less than two tenths off the best lap of Q1 recorded by Lewis Hamilton.

“In Q1 we proved how strong we are on this track," the two-time world champion said afterwards.

"Being only two tenths off the fastest time shows what a great job McLaren is doing. I felt we had the best car out there today. It was good fun!"

And the pace in Q1 had been no fluke, insisted Alonso.

“I’m extremely happy with the performance of the car so far this weekend," he said. "It felt great yesterday and also today, with a lot of grip in the corners.

"It gave me some good feelings in the high-speed sections, too."

Unfortunately, despite today's pace in qualifying, Alonso will start be starting from near the back of the grid. He has a 20 place grid penalty for yet more additional Honda power unit elements.

With penalties for his team mate Stoffel Vandoorne and also for Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, it means Alonso will line up in 18th place on the grid on Sunday.

Facing such a handicap, Alonso and Vandoorne sat back in Q2 and didn't set a time.

“Obviously saving some tyres in Q2 was the main priority today," Alonso explained. "The penalty will hurt massively because starting last we will run behind traffic for the whole race.

"With the straight-line deficit we have here, it’s going to be difficult to overtake tomorrow," he admitted. "But we’ll try to be aggressive, and if something happens in front of us we’ll take the chance."

Vandoorne didn't match Alonso's eye-catching performance in Q1, but there was a reason why he was nearly a second slower than his team mate.

"I was running on high fuel to prepare for the race and fine-tune the balance," he explained. "We’re taking penalties this weekend so our focus today was preparing for the race and definitely not on qualifying

"Today was a lot more positive for me and a big step forward. I feel like we’re in a decent shape for the race tomorrow," he added. "Our package is getting stronger and looks reasonably competitive here.

"We’ll be starting from the back so it will be tough, and where we will finish is hard to say.

"Overtaking in a straight line will be difficult for us so we’ll have to be aggressive, thoughtful and ambitious in the way we drive. Hopefully we can have a strong race."

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