Fernando Alonso may not want to be dealing with Q2 eliminations for much longer in Formula 1, but the Spaniard felt that his qualifying result for the Bahrain Grand Prix acted as a nice surprise for the British team.
McLaren has struggled with its new Honda-powered MP4-30 car in 2015, failing to score any points in the first three races of the season.
However, Alonso secured something of a breakthrough for the team in qualifying at the Bahrain International Circuit on Saturday by reaching Q2 for the first time in 2015. The Spaniard eventually qualified in 14th place for tomorrow’s race.
“This weekend has been a nice surprise so far and the car felt better again today,” Alonso said. “We’ve made a step forward, performance-wise. Everything appears to be going in the right direction.
“Of course, we’ll never be happy that our qualifying effort ran out in Q2, but it’s a step forward, and the whole team will and should enjoy this result because they’ve been working so hard to achieve it.”
Alonso was the sole McLaren to run in qualifying, though, as teammate Jenson Button was sidelined by a problem for the third time in the race weekend.
“Tomorrow will be about finishing the race and getting both cars to the flag,” Alonso said. “We’ve had some problems with reliability this weekend, with Jenson’s car, so we need to keep improving in that area.
“We’ll need a bit of luck if we’re to score points tomorrow.”
Button remained upbeat following qualifying in spite of his problem, although he was unsure what exactly caused him to lose power during Q1.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Button said. “It felt a bit similar to what occurred on Friday morning when everything shut down on the car. There was a loud bang, so I pulled over and got out.
“We’ve had quite a few issues this weekend, but the important thing is that we’re improving. Fernando got through to Q2, which is a good step for the team, and it’s just a pity I couldn’t be there as well.
“We knew it was going to be a hard start to the year, and it has been, but, even so, there are more positives than we thought there would be.
“Looking ahead to tomorrow, our race pace is likely to be not too bad. So hopefully we can sort out our reliability glitches ahead of tomorrow and have a decent race.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.