Fernando Alonso has described qualifying 12th for the Canadian Grand Prix as being the equivalent of pole position in the underpowered McLaren-Honda, branding it as his best performance of the year.

After suffering a hydraulics issue during Friday practice, Alonso started off on the wrong foot on his return to F1 following his Indy 500 jaunt but made quick work on getting back up to speed in FP2 to go a surprise seventh best.

Though never expecting to match that effort in qualifying, Alonso nonetheless turned heads with a run to 12th - half-a-second clear of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne - to line himself between the Toro Rosso pairing of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz.

"The truth is that it went better than we expected and this is the maximum we could have done," Alonso said.

"Twice I scrapped the wall, I finished again ahead of my team-mate, which is always the first goal for any driver, and to get within 1,2s of the best time in Q2, with the power deficit we have, it's clearly like pole position for us. It was the best performance of the year, for sure.

"I touched the walls twice but it's not something you want to do. You just land wherever the car goes when it comes off the kerbs, but you want to get as close as possible to the walls without touching them. I touched the walls in Turns Six and Eight, so the wheels have the marks from those walls, but at least we'll be able to choose the race starting tyres as we didn't make it to Q3."

Despite hailing his qualifying performance as the best of the year, Alonso acknowledges the challenge that lies ahead of McLaren in tomorrow's race given the poor reliability the team has endured this season and the MCL32's vulnerability on the straights.

"Tomorrow I'll try to collect some points. To finish the race won't be easy with all the reliability issues we have been facing, hopefully we'll managed to do that inside the top ten, as that's the main goal. In Spain I actually started 7th but it was difficult to overtake because we were very slow down the straights.

"Besides, with this engine we have to do a lot of fuel saving, we need to open the car to get as much cooling as possible to the radiators as the engine gets really hot and all that affects the performance."

 

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