"The race will be tough for everyone tomorrow"
Suzuka International Racing Course, Saturday 26 September
Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will start 14th and 16th respectively for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Jenson was eliminated at the end of Q1, when a yellow-flag period meant he was unable to better his banker time set at the beginning of the session. That first lap had also been compromised after the car had not been switched to the optimal engine mode, which lost Jenson time.
Fernando got a clear banker lap, but was also slower at the end of Q1 due to the yellow flags. He set a single timed lap in Q2, finishing 14th ahead of Max Verstappen, whose Q1 spin meant he missed out on setting a Q2 time.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-30-03
FP3 16th 1m36.360s (+2.365s) 18 laps
Q1 15th 1m35.467s (on Options)
Q2- 14th overall 1m34.785s (on Options)
“That was probably the best lap of my career around Suzuka. I could have fitted 100 more sets of tyres to the car, and I probably still wouldn’t have bettered that Q2 lap-time.
“It’s frustrating to end up 14th, but that’s the situation at the moment. And it’s not as though anyone in the team is relaxing. No, we’re pushing hard, but there are no magic solutions.
“Tomorrow’s race will be tough – there are faster cars behind, such as Max’s [Verstappen], but we’ll do our best to try to get some points.
“For all the fans who are supporting us, it would be nice to get both cars to the chequered flag tomorrow.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-30-04
FP3 12th 1m36.174s (+2.179s) 15 laps
Q1 16th overall 1m35.847s (on Options)
“The Q1 yellow flag in the middle sector meant I had to lift. Without that, I probably would have got through to Q2. However, I wasn’t told in which engine mode to put the car. Every time before we start a timed lap, we’re instructed over the radio to adopt a particular setting, but I didn’t get told, and I went to the wrong setting.
“The car didn’t feel too bad to drive – but we needed to get everything out of it today, and we didn’t. You can’t make a single mistake here – even going half-a-turn out on the front wing makes a big difference.
“The race will be tough for everyone tomorrow. But as usual we’ll try our best.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“Fernando drove a mighty lap in Q2, but was unable to better 14th position. That’s frustrating, but it shows the extent of his commitment, which is admirable.
“I must apologise to Jenson on behalf of the team. We have a set of procedures ahead of a qualifying lap, and we didn’t follow all of those today. He must feel frustrated to have lost out on his first run, and then not to have got a decent shot at it on his second. The yellow flags are a factor in motor racing, but we should have been a bit tighter with our procedures.
“Nonetheless, the team have worked very strongly together all weekend to refine our cars’ set-up after a difficult first day’s running yesterday. Neither driver was particularly contented with his car’s balance this morning, but we turned things around for qualifying this afternoon – that was a great team effort. We are only 2.1s from the fastest car which is our best relative performance so far.
“Tomorrow will be demanding for everyone. It’s going to be a really challenging race to manage, but, rest assured, we’re determined to keep pushing, and we’d love to be able to reward the loyal and passionate McLaren-Honda fans with a positive result tomorrow.”
YASUHISA ARAI - Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport
"We, our two drivers and the team, did the best we could do today at our home grand prix.
“It was a wonderful feeling to have the warm support of all the Japanese fans pushing us all the way. In the short time of FP3, both power unit and chassis data setting has improved much since yesterday. However, we know that we still have the gap to the frontrunners, so we must keep increasing our development speeds.
“In qualifying, it was disappointing that Jenson's second flying lap was hampered by a yellow flag at the end of Q1. He was on course to set his quickest time of the session, but unfortunately it meant he was unable to set a time. Fernando improved his lap time in Q2 as expected, but it wasn't enough to reach Q3.
“Tomorrow, we will challenge further in the race with the huge support of our home fans.”