Fernando Alonso says McLaren-Honda heads into the Singapore Grand Prix facing 'damage limitation' despite reaching Q3 and qualifying ninth on the grid.

The former champion came into the weekend tipping McLaren to be faster than Force India and Williams, but has instead been caught unawares by the surprising pace of Toro Rosso around the Marina Bay street circuit.

Though Alonso would make it into Q3 to qualify ninth on the grid he feels McLaren is in a fight to ensure it ends the race inside the points, lamenting the pace hasn't been as strong as he had hoped.

SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX - Qualifying results

"Unfortunately the pace wasn't great today, we struggled a little bit," he said. "We had one car out in Q2 and with the other one could manage only P9 in Q3. Hopefully we can have a good start tomorrow and with a good strategy we may score some strong points, but at the moment the pace isn't coming to us too easy.

"We are more or less where we expected to be, it's just that Toro Rosso is surprisingly good here. Let's say they have a car that is good for street circuits, with a lot of downforce and a lot of drag, we know that after this track we should be ahead of them comfortably.

"We're still aiming to be the fourth quickest team for the rest of the season and hopefully tomorrow we'll finish ahead of them. They have been very strong all weekend, so it will be difficult tomorrow. It will be a case of damage limitation here and attack from Malaysia onwards."

A street circuit named desire... or disaster - F1's best and worst city endeavours...

Despite this, Alonso is holding out hope for a 'typical' eventful street race that could play to McLaren's advantage.

"We're not fighting for the championship, so the more eventful the race, the more fun it can become, and we may gain more. But we have to work on strategy to try and gain places at the start and also on the pit stops. It will be a tough race, but anything can happen here and you have to be ready to seize the opportunity."

Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst