Fernando Alonso, 18th, makes another 'best lap ever' claim

Fernando Alonso has added another lap to the list he is compiling of his greatest performances — the one which earned him the 18th spot on the grid for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

McLaren’s is embroiled in another difficult campaign this year, having become a regular casualty in the Q1 segment of qualifying in recent races. Alonso is leaving F1 at the end of the season, having grown tired of the uncompetitive machinery he has been given since his return to McLaren in 2015.

Alonso was quick to point out the handicap he is up against after his performance at Suzuka, where he out-qualified teammate Stoffel Vandoorne by 0.5s, saying that he did not put his car a millimeter out of place throughout the session.

“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 on-board again in the engineers’ room. If you have a chance, watch it, because there is not one millimeter on entry, on exit, on the kerb. It was maximum risk, and I think it was the maximum today.”

Alonso has made a habit in recent years of emphasising how good his performances have been. He infamously called his Le Mans 24 Hours victory this year — in which he drove one of the two Toyotas which enjoyed a significant pace advantage — as the best in that event’s long history, while he also claimed no other driver could have replicated his actions at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when he managed to bring a damaged car back to the pits. Alonso also rated the Baku race the best of his life, a title he gave to at least three races — Australia, China and the U.S. Grand Prix — in 2017.

He has also frequently called qualifying laps the best of his career. At the British Grand Prix he said he had driven “beyond the limit” of what was possible from his car.

Earlier this year, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was critical of Alonso’s driving during qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix and referenced this habit, saying: “He talks about his laps being divine and what not, he literally thinks he’s a god!”