2016 Mexico Grand Prix – qualifying
"The freedom to choose the start tyres for tomorrow's race should work to our advantage"
Autόdromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Saturday October 29
Today was a drama-free day at the Autόdromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with both drivers managing clean laps and the team executing a perfect run plan.
The final practice session was dedicated to both high- and low-fuel running in preparation for qualifying and the race, as the team were able to evaluate better the different tyre compounds on a much warmer track than yesterday.
In qualifying, both drivers put in solid laps in clear air and were able to progress beyond Q1 without any issues. The top 10 was not quite within reach and both drivers reported that grip was at a premium on the slippery asphalt. Fernando will consequently start tomorrow’s race in 11th place and Jenson in 13th.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
|FP3||13th||1m20.600s (+1.463s)||18 laps|
|Q1||11th||1m20.552s (on Options)|
|Q2||11th overall||1m20.282s (on Options)|
“I think 11th place was probably the best possible position we could dream of today in terms of race strategy, as we’ll have free choice of tyres tomorrow for the race start and we’ll be on the clean side of the track. So you could say that many things went our way today.
“Unfortunately, however, we aren’t quick enough here. A few races ago we were routinely making it into Q3 and then fighting for seventh or eighth position, which is good, but here we’re fighting for ninth or 10th position – so, that being the case, we’d rather be in 11th position. But, that’s a side-issue really: more important is that we need to understand why we’re slightly struggling for pace here.
“Tyre degradation, which will be the key factor tomorrow, has been different from team to team, from set to set and also from day to day, so I think tomorrow we’ll all be going into a slightly unknown situation. So we’ll need to be very flexible and open to strategies, and then we’ll see what we can do.
“Finally, avoiding traffic will be one of tomorrow’s priorities, since we’ll have a free tyre choice.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
|FP3||15th||1m21.152s (+2.015s)||19 laps|
|Q1||15th||1m21.333s (on Options)|
|Q2||13th overall||1m20.673s (on Options)|
“My run on the old tyres in Q2 was actually my best lap – I just couldn’t get the new tyres working in Sector One on my final run so I lost three-tenths there. Sectors Two and Three were good, but I couldn’t get the balance right in Sector One.
“Realistically, 11th and 12th would probably have been the best possible scenario for us, as it would have been perfect for the race. But 11th and 13th isn’t so bad either, especially as I’ll start from the clean side of the track and we get to do our own tyre strategy, which is exactly what you want for a race like this. When you’re in the top 10, ninth or 10th is not a good thing because you’re stuck if you’ve run the Supersoft in Q2. It’s a tough tyre to manage and I think tomorrow we may have a better strategy.
“Hopefully our race pace will be better tomorrow than our quali pace was today – we’re not in bad shape and I’m looking forward to the race.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“There have been only 16 Mexican Grands Prix in the history of Formula 1 – excluding the 1962 non-championship race – and McLaren has won three of them, which total has been matched only by Lotus and Williams and exceeds the achievements of any other team.
“That being the case, obviously we aren’t satisfied with 11th and 13th – it isn’t the kind of qualifying performance on which our team’s great heritage and reputation were built – but, having said that, it’s just about the best possible result you can get if you don’t manage to progress through to Q3.
“Fernando, in P11, will be able to select his own tyre strategy for the race – which none of the 10 drivers ahead of him will be able to do – and he’ll start from the clean side of the grid too, which may well be a significant advantage on such dusty asphalt. Jenson will be similarly advantaged, lining up for the start in Fernando’s wheel-tracks in P13.
“So, bearing all that in mind, we have reason to hope for points from both of them. It won’t be easy – it never is – but they’re two of the hardest battlers in the field and they’ll both drive their hearts out in an effort to record top-10 finishes.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D Co Ltd head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
"Significantly, based on yesterday’s and today’s running, we’re now confident that our power unit’s altitude issues from last year have all been rectified and improved for this year, and we’re now able to run with the same performance here as at any other circuit. Of course, our position is still relative to the rest of the field, but it’s a good step forward for us and another target reached.
"We know the tyres take a long time to warm up on this track, so the team and drivers did a brilliant job to navigate both traffic and tyres to get a clean lap.
"It’s a slight disappointment that we missed out on Q3, but we know that the asphalt is tough on tyres here, so our current positions and the freedom to choose the start tyres for tomorrow’s race should work to our advantage."