Fernando Alonso is hoping for dry conditions in Monaco on Saturday as he needs more time to truly analyse the new Pirelli 'ultrasoft' tyre.
The Spaniard sat twelfth on the Thursday afternoon timesheets in the Principality but revealed later that he had not had the chance to get a decent run on the latest compound, introduced for the first time in competition this weekend.
“Analysing the tyres is difficult because it all depends on what time of the session you use them, if you managed a good lap or not, if you hit traffic and what was the track temperature at the time,” Alonso reasoned, “When I used the ultrasofts, I had a problem with the brakes. The car wasn't stopping at all, so I had to do a few laps changing settings, to try and recover braking power without aborting the run. At the end, I managed to do a few laps with the ultrasofts, but I didn't make the most out of them.”
Despite his truncated efforts, Alonso concurred with rivals who suggested that there was little to choose between the ultra and supersoft compounds, although his impression of the purple-ringed rubber in race conditions currently differs to wider opinion.
“I felt the gap for the supersoft was not as big as expected but, in race conditions, there are big differences because the ultrasoft has high degradation,” he noted, in contrast to a majority who feel the new rubber does not wear enough and could be good for a good proportion of what is likely to be a one-stop race.
Brake issue aside, Alonso was able to make progress throughout Thursday, and is already turning his attention to trying to get McLaren into Q3 at the most qualifying-sensitive track of the year.
“All in all there were not surprises, so this was a typical Monaco Thursday, trying to gain confidence with the track and complete as many laps as possible,” he acknowledged, “For sure, there are areas where we have to improve, things we have to change to get more front end grip and gain more confidence in the car.
“We didn't have any mechanical issues and no incidents - apart what happened to Jenson in FP1 that destroyed his car's nosecone - so now the focus is on preparing for Saturday and making the most out of the fact we have more than 24 hours to prepare the next session.
“What we have to do is to maximise what we have for qualifying because, here, it's very difficult to overtake. If it will rain on Sunday, then everything will change but, for now, what matters is to get a good FP3 session in and make the most out of what we have in qualifying.”