Fernando Alonso was convinced he was going to make it into Q2 after turning in “one of the best laps” of his Formula 1 career during Japanese Grand Prix qualifying.

The Spaniard was 18th quickest and nearly three seconds off the pace of polesitter Lewis Hamilton as both McLaren drivers were dumped out of Q1, ending the session as the slowest cars barring Marcus Ericsson, who crashed his Sauber.

Despite the team’s poor performance at Suzuka, Alonso said he felt he could extract no more from his MCL33 after taking “maximum risk” on his lap.

“I was convinced when I crossed the line that we could be in Q2 easily because probably it has been one of the best laps I did in my life here at Suzuka,” Alonso explained.

“I saw now the onboard again in the engineers’ room. If you have a chance, watch it, because there is not one millimetre on entry, on exit, on the kerb. It was maximum risk, and I think it was the maximum today.”

Alonso claimed McLaren has not introduced an upgrade to its car since the Spanish Grand Prix in May and pinpointed a lack of the development as the main reason behind the team’s worst qualifying result of the season.

“The lack of development is probably the most of this result,” he said. “I think we constantly see new parts to the midfield guys every weekend, because we see their cars, we see the pictures you guys take of the cars etc.

“We see always updates to everyone, and from probably Spain, we don’t have any. So I think it’s probably the reason why. But also the circuit itself I think maybe has different characteristics than Spa or whatever it shows a little bit more our weakness.”

Japan marked the scene of Alonso’s remarkable “GP2 engine” radio outburst in 2015 amid McLaren’s disastrous tenure with Honda – which ultimately led to a split between the two parties at the end of last season.

The Japanese engine manufacturer introduced its latest power unit this weekend as Toro Rosso reaped the benefits to make it into a Q3 that featured just a single Renault-powered car.

When asked if he felt he has less power than a GP2 car, Alonso replied: “No, I don’t think so. On the straights, I think we can match the other people.

“On deployment-wise, we can match other people. If we have to fight with someone, I think we are in the same category.”