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Alonso stuns F1 paddock with P7 in Spain qualifying, calls it ‘a gift’

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Fernando Alonso pulled out one of the stand-out performances of the 2017 Formula 1 season so far by dragging his McLaren-Honda MCL32 car to seventh place on the grid for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso has endured a frustrating start to the 2017 season, failing to score any points amid ongoing problems with the Honda power unit that lacks both performance and reliability.

Alonso was sidelined early in practice and completed just a handful of laps on Friday, offering an ominous forecast for his home qualifying session.

However, the Spaniard managed to pull his usual trick of dragging the car far beyond its rightful position, taking seventh place on the grid in Barcelona, only trailing the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

“Running in the ovals, maybe I learned how to go quick on the straights as well!” Alonso joked, referring to his IndyCar test on May 3 ahead of his Indianapolis 500 run later this month.

“It was definitely a good qualifying, P7 is a gift so we will see what we can do tomorrow from here.

“This is a circuit which is difficult to overtake so we’ll try to get in position.”

This was his scenario on Friday, as noted.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”