"It’s good to be starting in the top 10"
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Saturday November 12
Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix from 10th position, after posting strong lap-times in all three qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon.
Jenson Button starts 17th after failing to find a satisfactory balance in either FP3 or qualifying. Jenson was mystified by the lack of pace, but the team will analyse the data overnight in a bid to resolve any outstanding issues.
With rain forecast for tomorrow, there’s still much to play for this weekend.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
|FP3||12th||1m13.002s (+1.262s)||12 laps|
|Q1||11th||1m12.700s (on Options)|
|Q2||7th||1m12.312s (on Options)|
|Q3||10th overall||1m12.266s (on Options)|
“I really enjoyed driving today and felt really confident with the car. These cooler conditions seem to suit our package a little better than yesterday’s higher temperatures, and we extracted the maximum from the car.
“Still, we were a little bit worried after FP3 as we weren’t completely on the pace, and I was even more worried when I saw Jenson go out in Q1. I just thought, ‘This isn’t going to be our Saturday!’ but – happily – my car behaved fantastically on each of the five Option tyre-sets I used in qualifying.
“The car just kept on delivering: I kept finding an extra tenth each time I went out, just finding a little extra at the limit.
“I hope the track time I lost yesterday isn’t going to cost me too much in tomorrow’s race, as everybody conducted their long runs in totally different weather conditions. Tomorrow, we’re expecting it to be cooler with the possibility of some rain, so it’s good to be starting in the top 10.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
|FP3||18th||1m13.750s (+2.010s)||9 laps|
|Q1||17th overall||1m13.276s (on Options)|
“The car was really well balanced yesterday, and I was 10th quickest in FP2; today, it was a completely different car.
“There’s definitely something not right – there’s no reason why the car should feel like it does; but it’s been like that since this morning. We’re off the pace and it’s frustrating.
“When the conditions are cooler, you tend to pick up a little more rear grip and stability, and in high-speed the car is so on the nose. Then you destroy the rear tyres for the low-speed corners; you don’t have the grip because the tyres are damaged.
“Still, it’s done now, and tomorrow’s another day…”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“It’s been a somewhat tricky weekend so far, but we’ve pushed hard to fix our issues.
“Yesterday, we weren’t able to get either car through to the end of FP2; this morning, we had a gearbox sensor issue on Fernando’s car, which delayed him at the start of FP3, then we had to change Jenson’s ISS and ECU after an issue at the very end of this morning’s practice.
“Our engineers and mechanics have done a very solid job of rectifying all the issues and swiftly addressing them, so let’s hope that our problems are now firmly behind us for the remainder of the weekend.
“After showing well yesterday, Jenson couldn’t get the car hooked up today – he was always struggling for a balance, and was mystified by the shortfall in pace. We’ll have a close look at everything tonight to make sure he’s got a better chance in tomorrow’s race.
“Today’s cooler conditions certainly played well for Fernando. He really revelled in the car’s handling this afternoon, pushing it as high as seventh in Q2. Tenth spot is a very good effort.
“With mixed conditions on the radar for tomorrow, we feel we’re set for a stronger performance tomorrow.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D Co Ltd head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
“So far, it has been a tricky weekend to gauge where we are, with the boiling heat of Friday and the damp track in this morning’s FP3. In this afternoon’s qualifying, it was nice to see Fernando back into Q3. He put in a very good lap, so we were hoping for a P7 or P8, but just missed out by a few tenths.
“Jenson, however, had more of a difficult time adjusting to the condition changes from yesterday to today, and struggled with balance all of today. There is such a surprisingly big gap to Fernando, so we must look into this matter tonight, and nail the strategy for the race tomorrow.”