Fernando Alonso: Singapore 'best weekend' of McLaren's 2015 so far
Alonso admits late yellow flag didn't cost McLaren first Q3 slot of the year, but says 12th on grid means Singapore "best weekend of the year so far for us"
By James Galloway in Singapore
Last Updated: 22/09/15 9:18am
Fernando Alonso said he had "zero disappointment" after matching McLaren's best qualifying performance of their largely forgettable season in Singapore.
Two weeks after McLaren-Honda's campaign sunk to its lowest level yet when the MP4-30 proved quicker than only backmarkers Manor at Monza, both of the team's cars made Q2 for just the third time this season - and the first occasion since Monaco in May.
Spared the punishing straights which brought so much performance misery at Monza, the Honda-powered MP4-30 was always expected to go better around the streets of Singapore, although Alonso suggested on Thursday that it was only likely to be their third-strongest track of the year after Monaco and Hungary.
Both Alonso and Jenson Button had the conclusion of their final Q2 laps compromised by yellow flags after Carlos Sainz hit the wall, but neither felt they had the pace to move into the top 10.
However, Alonso reckons he would have been within a tenth of Valtteri Bottas's Williams and therefore, without any engine penalties to serve for a change, was positive about the outcome.
"It was close, but it was still not possible without the yellow flag. Maybe one tenth, one tenth and a half, from Bottas who was 10th, but sometimes I'm more happy with 11th or 12th with new tyres than 10th with old tyres in the race," Alonso said.
"The situation for us today was quite representative in terms of position on the grid and [I am] definitely not disappointed with the result. Two weeks ago we were one second in front of Manor and one second behind Sauber, which was the team in front of us. Now we are 11th, maybe, [without the yellow flag] one tenth behind Bottas.
"It's the best weekend of the year so far for us. We are enjoying always being in the mix, we have no penalties, we start in the positions we qualified, so definitely zero disappointment."
McLaren, facing their worst constructors' championship finish in three decades, have scored points in just three races so far. Alonso, who had ran in the top 10 during practice, is hoping to move up the order on Sunday.
"Every lap is a learning process we are going through and in practice probably the results were too optimistic. But tomorrow we probably have the best chance of the year to score points," he added.
While Alonso said he had "no big problems" with Pirelli's tyres on Saturday, the opposite was true for Button as the Briton failed to match the pace of his team-mate.
Having only just escaped Q1, Button proved the slowest of the remaining 15 runners and admitted: "I struggled with the tyres today, as I'm sure a lot of others did, and could not read them at all.
"My second run in qualifying I always picked up massive understeer, in Q1 and in Q2. Obviously the brakes get hot and you use them to warm the bulk tyre temperature and you don't want to raise the surface [temperature] too much. I think I was putting too much temperature into the fronts for my second run. I always had massive understeer, even though we put a lot of front wing in."
Nonetheless, despite starting three places behind the sister car, Button is also setting his sights on points."This is a better circuit for us compared to Monza and Spa, but it's still not as good as Hungary and Monaco. So it [the qualifying result]'s alright and there's still good possibilities - even for me where I am - to score points tomorrow. It's going to be hard, of course, but we're going to give it our best shot."