Qualifying - Abu Dhabi GP report: McLaren Honda
Fernando Alonso posted a brilliant final lap in Q3 to line up ninth for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His team-mate Jenson Button, who will start the final race of his Formula 1 career (version 1.0) tomorrow, qualified in 12th place.
“I think we have to be happy today: it was definitely a good quali for us.
“The conditions are always difficult here, because you practice in hot conditions, then head into qualifying when the track conditions are much cooler. That means you need to anticipate what’s going to happen, and make set-up changes a little blindly as you don’t really know how the conditions are going to change.
“Happily, our car felt competitive, and making it into Q3 and finishing 9th in the final qualifying session of the season is extremely positive. We capitalised the performance of the car today and we got everything we possibly could out of it.
“There are no big threats from behind us in terms of the championship, and it’ll be hard tomorrow to finish higher than the position we’re already in, so let’s just enjoy this final race and hopefully finish on a high by scoring some good points.”
“It was good fun out there this evening – I enjoyed it.
“As the track cooled down, we needed to balance the car up with more front-end grip, but didn’t have anything left in the car, so the resulting understeer cost me a little bit of time.
“To be fair, however, 12th position isn’t a bad place to be for tomorrow: we get to run new tyres. With these tyre regulations, it’s often better to start outside the top 10 in order to best free up the strategy for the race. And I’d definitely rather have a good race tomorrow than a good qualifying today.
“None of the compounds last for long around here, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow – points are definitely possible.”
“Both drivers did a very good job in qualifying this evening, optimising all the available performance their cars had to offer.
“The result – P9 for Fernando and P12 for Jenson – provides a good platform from which both of them will be able to aim for points-scoring finishes tomorrow.
“In particular, it would be very nice if Jenson scores in what may or may not end up being his last Grand Prix – and the fact that he’ll have a free hand as regards tyre choice will assist him we hope.”
“McLaren-Honda was able to make the most of the last qualifying session of the 2016 season today, with Fernando reaching Q3 and finishing P9, and Jenson in P12, a good position to start with fresh tyres in tomorrow’s race.
“Both drivers were happy with the car’s balance and performance as well as their laps in each of the sessions, and are looking forward to tomorrow’s race, which is very encouraging for the team.
“This afternoon’s FP3 was also a busy session, and the team did a superb and professional job of setting up the car for qualifying. We think that our race pace is again good here so we are hoping for a successful end-of-year race tomorrow.”