McLaren's Fernando Alonso said he is looking to take advantage of grid penalties for Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg to secure a high position on the grid for sunday's Grand Prix. Alonso has made the final qualifying session in the last three Grands Prix and believes that another good qualifying in Austin should see him secure one of the teams highest grid positions of the season.
Alonso has had a disappointing season so far, struggling to get his car into the points regularly and is now behind teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in the driver standings after the Belgian had stellar weekends in Singapore and Malaysia. The arrival of Renault engines for next year and the announcement of the renewal of his contract should see a change in mentality for the two time world champion.
Alonso said this on the prospects for the weekend: “We lost the first session this morning because of an hydraulic issue, which was quite painful because we had several items to test, including for next year. We tried to catch up in the second session but it was difficult, so I think we’ll try them again in Mexico.
“I believe there’s still quite a bit to get out of the car – still some tenths to find, which I think probably everyone will find. We know Verstappen and Hulkenberg have penalties, so if we manage to get into Q3 tomorrow, we’ll be able to start from an even better position. But if we don’t make it into Q3, and we can start eighth or ninth on new tyres, it could be very good too.
“It’s nice to drive on this track with this year’s cars. It’s much more fun, especially through the fast corners in the first sector. There are many more bumps than last year, so we’re holding tight on the steering wheel and with the seatbelt tightly fastened. But it’s fun!”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing