Alonso crashed towards the end of his first effort in Q3 in Albert Park after going quickest in the middle sector.

The Spaniard lost control of his car at Turn 11 after it got stuck in gear, suggesting that it was a hydraulic issue.

Speaking after the session, Alonso was confident his lap would have been good enough to secure a top three grid position - at least provisionally before the final runs.

“I don’t know, I think it’s something hydraulic because I couldn’t change gear and the steering became very, very heavy so I guess we lost the power steering,” Alonso said.

“I don’t know if we could fight for pole because that’s a big thing but for sure, top three, I think that lap was enough for top three and we had two sets of new tyres because we saved them in Q1 and Q2. It is so frustrating.”

Since returning to F1 at the start of 2021, Alonso has often struggled to produce his best in qualifying, usually saving his outstanding performances for race day.

Alonso’s best qualifying performance came at the Qatar Grand Prix when he qualified fifth. He went on to finish on the podium for the first time since 2014 on race day at Losail.

Alonso believes Melbourne has been his ‘best weekend in years’.

“I don’t know,” Alonso replied when asked if he might incur a penalty because of the damage sustained. “Honestly, right now I don’t care.

“I was probably doing my best weekend in years, even fighting for pole position. Now, whatever it is we will take it.”

How good was Alonso’s lap?

There’s no doubt that Alonso was flying in his Alpine and he was up on Leclerc’s provisional pole time.

Leclerc was on top with a 1m18.239s but Alonso was on course to beat it.

Looking at their first runs in Q3:

Leclerc: S1: 26.838, S2: 17.988, S3: 33.413

Alonso: S1: 26.856, S2: 17.753, S3: ??

From the data, it’s clear that Alonso was on a blistering lap with his middle sector over two-tenths faster than Leclerc’s best at the time.

Provisional pole for the two-time champion might have been a stretch given the Ferrari’s superiority in the final sector.

Up until Q3, Alonso’s best final sector was only a 34.020s - further evidence that pole position was never really in reach.

It’s likely Alonso would have slotted into second behind Leclerc but then without the red flag, Sainz would have likely taken the provisional pole off his teammate.

Regardless, Alonso was in fine form and was a serious contender for a top four starting position in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

What can Alonso achieve on race day?

Alonso is set to start the race from 10th on the grid but could be subject to penalties should his gearbox or power unit components be damaged.

He will be confident of making his way through the field given Alpine’s impressive speed, particularly in a straight line.

Before his retirement last time out in Saudi Arabia, Alonso was on course to finish sixth after an intense battle with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon.

Alonso will no doubt be aggressive as he looks to recover from P10 on the grid so it will be exciting to see how he progresses in the grand prix.