Date published: October 6 2018
Fernando Alonso thought he was assured of a place in the second part of qualifying after “one of the best laps” of his career.
However, the Spaniard could only manage a P18 grid slot, as the McLaren’s were the slowest of the cars that set times.
The only reason they will not start from the back row is thanks to Marcus Ericsson’s crash in Q1, putting him at the back of the field.
Alonso said he could not extract anything more from his MCL33 and that he felt sure he would be going out again come the start of Q2.
“I was convinced when I crossed the line that we could be in Q2 easily because probably it has been one of the best laps I did in my life here at Suzuka,” Alonso said.
“I saw now the onboard again in the engineers’ room.
“If you have a chance, watch it, because there is not one millimetre on entry, on exit, on the kerb. It was maximum risk, and I think it was the maximum today.”
The Spaniard claimed that McLaren had not brought any parts to the car since his home grand prix back in May.
He believes that this lack of development is why the team has struggled in the second half of the season, leading to their worst qualifying of the year in Japan.
“The lack of development is probably the most of this result,” the two-time World Champion added.
“I think we constantly see new parts to the midfield guys every weekend, because we see their cars, we see the pictures you guys take of the cars etc.
“We see always updates to everyone, and from probably Spain, we don’t have any, so I think it’s probably the reason why.
“But also the circuit itself I think maybe has different characteristics than Spa or whatever it shows a little bit more our weakness.”
Meanwhile, McLaren’s former engine supplier, Honda, managed to power both Toro Rosso drivers into the top seven on Saturday afternoon.
Three years ago, Alonso ranted over the team radio, claiming that the Honda engine in the back of his McLaren that day might as well have been a “GP2 engine”.
Now, though, only one Renault powered car made it into the top ten shootout, with Max Verstappen the sole participant.
Asked if he felt he has less power than a GP2 car with that engine in the back of the MCL33, Alonso said:
“No, I don’t think so. On the straights, I think we can match the other people.
“On deployment-wise, we can match other people. If we have to fight with someone, I think we are in the same category.”
Alonso will start Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix from P18, with McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne a place behind.