Fernando Alonso says top-eight qualifying slot was on in Monaco
Spaniard says the MP4-30 is stiill a "bit too fragile at the moment" after Q2 breakdown scuppers Q3 shot; Button disappointed to miss Q3 too, but will start 10th after penalties elsewhere
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 23/05/15 6:17pm
Fernando Alonso believes he could have qualified as high as sixth place for the Monaco GP had McLaren’s “too fragile” MP4-30 not run into yet more mechanical problems in Q2.
With Alonso boldly predicting ahead of the weekend that his team would finally open their points account for 2015 in the principality, McLaren looked on course for a breakthrough Q3 result for qualifying as their drivers ran strongly during practice.
However, two-time Monaco winner Alonso’s chances of fighting for the top 10 were scuppered at the start of Q2 when suspected electrical problems shut down his MP4-30 at Sainte Devote. The Spaniard reckons the latest bout of unreliability cost him a grid position around the Red Bulls - Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat line up fourth and fifth - and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in sixth.
“We were P3 and P6 this morning when we had no traffic, so maybe that was too optimistic [to qualifying there], but around sixth, seventh, eighth position we could fit both cars,” Alonso told Sky Sports News HQ.
“Both unfortunately we could not manage to deliver the result and next time we need to improve, performance side and reliability side because we are a bit too fragile at the moment.”
Although Jenson Button’s car held together for qualifying, McLaren suffered more misfortune when the Briton’s attempts to secure a Q3 berth were hindered by a yellow flag when Nico Rosberg ran off the road at Sainte Devote.
Forced to slow through the opening part of his final lap, Button missed out by less than a tenth of a second and reckons it cost him a first top-10 slot of 2015.
“There’s always a lot of woulda and couldas isn’t there but I am going to say I would have got into Q3,” Button told Sky F1.
“The car’s felt really good, I know we still don’t have the outright pace, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in it round here and you need that – especially braking. I’m happy because I feel the car is making progress, but it [Q3] should have happened.”
Still, as it transpired, Button will actually start from 10th place after Toro Rosso's eight-placed Carlos Sainz joined Lotus's 11th-placed Romain Grosjean in picking up a grid penalty.
“Our aim – and everyone’s aim – is to score points at this race and it would be nice to do that because it would be a little stepping stone to what we want to achieve in the future," Button added. "We could have had a bit of fun in Q3 because there’s three or four cars we would have been fighting with.”
Alonso, meanwhile, didn’t rule out the possibility that what stands as his 13th-place grid spot could yet get worse should McLaren need to make substantial changes to his damaged car in parc ferme overnight.
But even if he does start on row eight, he reckons his six-year run of consecutive points finishes in the principality is unlikely to be extended.
“I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, but this is the Monte Carlo grand prix and the race finishes on Saturday afternoon,” he told TV reporters.
“It’s then a train of cars on Sundays and starting 15th that will probably be the final position if nothing strange happens. But hopefully we can gain some experience, put some laps [on the car] and improve both the performance and the reliability because we are too fragile at the moment.”
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