McLaren has denied it missed the deadline to submit its Formula 1 tyre selection for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with the team claiming it expected the MCL33 car to work better with harder compounds.

McLaren opted to take only four sets of the fastest Supersoft tyre to Suzuka for drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, with the next-lowest number chosen by any driver being seven (Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas). The team also opted for four sets of Mediums - double the number of any other team - and five sets of Softs.

COTA #2 - Tremendous Turn 1

Reports emerged on Friday at Suzuka suggesting McLaren had been allocated its tyre selection by default after missing the submission deadline with supplier Pirelli. The deadline for Suzuka was the same day as the Belgian Grand Prix, for which McLaren chose an identical tyre selection (4 x Medium, 5 x Soft, 4 x Supersofts).

However, McLaren moved to deny the allocation was made by default, instead saying it was a decision taken by the team which had backfired.

“I think earlier in the year, there was a general understanding that our car was working better with harder compounds, and particularly on this type of track, with very high Gs and a lot of sequence of corners, that it would be a more suitable choice,” sporting director Gil de Ferran explained.

“I think quite frankly as it transpires, we got it wrong, and we have been spending the whole weekend trying to deal with a non-optimal choice that we’ve made. That’s all there is to it.

“It was a deliberate selection. I read something on the press that we forgot to make the choice and therefore got a default choice from Pirelli, but that’s not true.”

The setback meant that neither Alonso nor Vandoorne could complete a lap on Supersoft tyres prior to the start of Q1 at Suzuka. McLaren ailed to its worst qualifying result of the season as Alonso and Vandoorne finished 18th and 19th respectively, only beating Marcus Ericsson, who crashed out.

Both drivers stressed the tyre choice mistake had not impacted their preparations for qualifying, though.

“I don’t think it changes the result of today dramatically. Maybe it was not the perfect build-up towards the qualifying session, with the performance we’ve had,” Vandoorne said.

“In this event, I don’t think it would actually have changed the outcome. Actually with the amount of tyres that we had available for tomorrow, if for some reason it’s very hot and the blistering starts to become apparent, maybe it’s a good thing.”

Added Alonso: “I don’t think it really changed anything on the preparation. Maybe one set for a Free Practice maybe, you get a read on the balance, but the balance was good in qualifying, so I don’t think that we lost too much not having the Supersofts until qualifying.

“We spent the whole weekend in the tyres we will do the race with. I think actually we had a better preparation than other weekends, maybe, so I think there is not much to it.”

De Ferran then moved to accept responsibility for the incorrect tyre choice - despite not having been appointed into his role of sporting director when the deadline of June 29 (14 weeks before the start of running at Suzuka) passed. De Ferran formally took up the role on July 4.

“I think the best way to answer this is that I take full responsibility for it," de Ferran said.

"I think if I am not mistaken the call was made in late June, early July. Don’t take my word for it.

"Regardless, I think the important thing is to say look, with we didn’t get it quite right to be honest with you and we’re not always going to get everything right and we strive to be better, make better analysis, make better decisions and so on and so forth.

"I think we understand that at the time we made the best decision we could with what we believe what was the right information. New evidence and information became available since, and with 20:20 hindsight, you look back and you think 'yeah, probably would have made a different call.'"