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McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso was happy to meet his pre-qualifying expectations and secure seventh place on the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but joked that he'd had better birthday presents.

Celebrating his 36th birthday, Alonso led McLaren to its best qualifying result of the year so far as it got both cars into the top 10. The Spaniard took eighth, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne finished ninth.

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Both drivers will gain a place thanks to Nico Hulkenberg's grid penalty, giving McLaren a real chance to add to the two point it has scored so far this season at a track that should make its Honda power deficit less pronounced.

"I think everything went according to our best expectations as we are behind the top three teams, behind Nico that has been very quick all weekend," Alonso said.

"He will take a grid penalty, so we gain another position and to start seventh and eighth tomorrow, as we will, was our first big goal for the weekend.

"It's nice but I've had better birthday gifts! I've won here, I've been on the podium, so to be seventh on the grid is the least we could have achieved, knowing this is a track where the engine counts a bit less.

"We're still far behind, so let's try and have some fun tomorrow. There are a lot of things happening in the background for 2018, so let's hope next year we can be fighting for pole positions and not for seventh place on the grid.

"In the race if everything goes normally we know the top three teams are out of our reach, so we have to try and protect our seventh and eighth places. But if something happens in front of us we'll have to try and take advantage of it."