Fernando Alonso has found a way of explaining away the possibility of missing out in what he anticipates will be a tight battle to make the final phase of Canadian Grand Prix qualifying by suggesting it might not be a bad thing.

The Spaniard was only eleventh fastest in the quicker afternoon practice session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and, while saying that he hoped that McLaren, with its improved Honda engine, could be a factor in Q3, admitted that the battle to make the top ten was going to be as tight as ever.

"It was a good Friday but, on Saturdays, those who run with Mercedes engines always make a big step forward so, tomorrow, Williams and Force India will be very competitive and, if you add to them Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, you've got the top ten covered," Alonso reasoned, "And let's not forget Toro Rosso, which has always been into Q3, so it will be harder for us [to make it] than in Barcelona and Monaco.

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"We'll do our best, but this is probably one of the races in which not getting through to Q3 could be an advantage because we can choose the tyres we'll start the race with. So, if I qualify eleventh tomorrow, it's probably the best place, as to be forced to start the race with the ultrasofts will be far from ideal."

While the addition of a new turbocharger seemed to suit the McLaren-Honda package, reliability issues on both cars meant that Alonso and team-mate Jenson Button wasted time in the garage during the day.

"Jenson had a few issues with the new engine, and I had some problems with the hydraulic system this morning, but it was nothing major," Alonso reported, "I think everything is under control. The new turbo we're running here is working well, but the focus for tomorrow morning will be the tyres, to try and figure out what are the faster tyres for qualifying as that's far from being a clear-cut decision."