Fernando Alonso refused to dwell on his Q1 exit in today’s qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix, and instead chose to look at the positive progress that McLaren has made over the past few weeks.
The Spaniard returned to the wheel of his MP4-30 car on Friday after spending a month out injured following his accident during pre-season testing.
After switching to Honda power units for the 2015 season, McLaren has encountered a number of problems with its new car that have left both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button struggling for pace.
This was particularly clear during qualifying on Saturday in Malaysia as both drivers were eliminated in the first part of the session. Button finished 17th in Q1, with Alonso 18th.
However, the Spaniard remained upbeat following the session, saying that he doubts the team will be dealing with Q1 dropouts much longer.
“Our form today wasn’t unexpected, but I think our performance so far this weekend has maybe been better than I’d have anticipated before arriving here in Malaysia,” Alonso said.
“In fact, I’d say the progress we’ve made since Australia has been fantastic. We’re much closer to the cars in front now – but we’re still under-performing and we still need to improve.
“However, the steps we’re taking with the car show a lot of progress, so I’m optimistic that I won’t be qualifying in Q1 for that much longer.”
Alonso is relishing his first race since rejoining McLaren on Sunday after missing the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
“For me, the start procedure, the formation lap, the pit-stops – they’ll all be firsts for me as I wasn’t able to practise any of them in Australia,” Alonso said. “That makes me feel confident that there’s a lot more to come in the next few weeks.
“This isn’t an ideal position from which to start the race, but I’m fully aware that McLaren-Honda is a long-term project: we want to beat Mercedes, and to do that you need time, and to be prepared to take your chances as they come.”
The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30a ET tomorrow.