Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren can carry its strong start to the Singapore Grand Prix weekend into tomorrow’s race and record just its fifth top ten finish of the 2015 season.
McLaren’s 2015 form has been blighted by the new Honda power unit, which has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that were carried over from the last McLaren-Honda partnership in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Alonso has recorded just two top ten finishes since joining McLaren at the beginning of the year, but has hopes of picking up a third on Sunday after recording his best qualifying result of the season in P12.
“I think this is the position we deserved today,” Alonso said. “Without the yellow flag, we may have been able to manage 11th and 12th, half a second from the top 10, but not better than that.
“This weekend has been very good for me, though, very different from Monza and Spa, I’ve always felt comfortable and competitive here, and tomorrow we’ll start in a good position from which to score points.
“The race here is quite tough and demanding, on the mechanical side and on the driver’s side. There’s no room for mistakes, so we have to run a perfect race tomorrow and hopefully be in the points.
“Overtaking here is very difficult, so positions are mainly decided by where you start and by your strategy. There are always safety cars here, and you need some luck with that too.”
Teammate Jenson Button was caught out by the late yellow flag in Q2, leaving him 15th on the grid for the start of tomorrow’s race.
“We were always going to have high targets coming here off the back of two difficult races – you’ve got to think positive,” Button said. “But even if we’d got absolutely everything together, it would still have been difficult.
“Even so, 15th isn’t what I’d hoped for, and I’m sure 12th isn’t what Fernando had ideally hoped for either. It was a pretty tough qualifying session, all in all. I got understeer when I put new tires on, and you just can’t put enough front wing on to help that.
“And then I got the yellow flag at the end of the lap, so I had to lift, which scuppered my chances of doing better. I wouldn’t have got through to Q3, but I would have been a bit higher up.
“So tonight I’ll have a nice chilled evening and look forward to tomorrow. It’s quite an unusual circuit here – you can overtake – so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
The power-easy nature of the Marina Bay Street Circuit has played to McLaren’s advantage so far this weekend, giving both Alonso and Button a chance of adding to the team’s measly haul of 17 points so far in 2015.
The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.