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F1 Japanese GP: Alonso: Q3 berth could compromise race strategy

Fernando Alonso says getting into the final qualifying session could compromise his chances of the best race strategy after struggling for pace on the soft tyres.
RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Free practice results (2)

Fernando Alonso says getting into the final qualifying session could compromise his chances of the best race strategy after struggling to find pace on the soft tyres at Suzuka.

The McLaren-Honda driver demonstrated the team's gains over the past 12 months by finishing Friday practice eighth overall, a position he feels would become an aggregate P9 when Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo sets a time on the soft tyres, despite having his FP1 disrupted by a spin which forced a rear wing and floor change due to light contact with the barriers.

Alonso put the spin down to a problem with his rear wing which McLaren-Honda is investigating and despite the positive hot lap time he feels plenty more needs to be extracted from the car before the race.

The former F1 world champion also feels getting into Q3 may be detrimental to his option on race strategy as he will have to start of the soft compound tyre which demonstrated a sharp drop off in pace at the Japanese track, while the threat of wet weather could play a role.

“It will be interesting. If it rains for qualifying tomorrow or the race we need to be very careful for which tyres and which strategy we can race,” Alonso said. “Even the Q3 spot, I don't know how interesting it is because obviously you'll need to start of the softs, that could compromise the race."

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“I think it has been a tough day in general as we are not happy with the set-up yet but we need to keep working tonight. The most important thing in the second session was to test the compounds for the long runs and we did that with a good number of laps.

“We need to find some extra speed and hopefully we can be there. We need to watch the weather as well as some forecasts say rain and some not so we need to be ready for everything.”

Alonso is hoping for a stronger showing at Honda's home race this weekend after last year's frustrating lack of performance led to the Spanish driver complaining over the team radio his engine felt like a GP2 car.

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by Haydn Cobb



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