Fernando Alonso believes McLaren should be targeting qualifying as high as fifth place on the grid for this weekend’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. 

McLaren was bolstered by a major aerodynamic upgrade in Barcelona as Alonso secured the Woking-based squad’s first Q3 appearance of the season, before going on to record his fifth consecutive points finish of 2018. 

With greater emphasis placed on having a combination of a strong chassis and downforce package as oppose to powerful engine performance, Monaco has been earmarked as a great opportunity for McLaren to achieve a big result. 

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And Alonso insists getting two cars into the final segment of qualifying on Saturday should be the minimum requirement set by McLaren. 

When asked which grid position would satisfy him on Saturday, the Spaniard quipped: “P1. I mean this is a race that 99% of the race is on Saturday. Let’s see, it’s difficult to predict. I think last year the car was quite strong here, Stoffel was sixth in Q1, seventh in Q2, so I think seventh was possible last year. 

“We saw in some circuits this year that we will perform better than we expect and some others we perform a little bit worse than we expect. Between P5 and P10 should be our target and to be in Q3 with both cars will be the target this weekend.”

But Alonso is not convinced a surprise result will be possible on Sunday and has played down any thoughts of McLaren achieving a first podium finish in six years. 

“It’s a different and very unique layout and weekend but at the same time there are not many surprises here. It is never a place where you have a midfield team winning a race or a small team winning a race or doing the pole position. 

"There is always a lot of expectation in Monaco but it is always a Mercedes, a Ferrari or a Red Bull on pole position. Three of these six drivers have been on the podium in the last editions, and I think it is going to be quite similar again. 

“Definitely it’s an opportunity for some of the teams to do a good race, to score a good number of points – hopefully with both cars – but it’s also quite easy to do a mistake and lose all those points. 

"It’s quite difficult to make a surprise but it’s quite easy to make a mistake. It’s a weekend that is important in all the aspects to execute well.”

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