Fernando Alonso says he needs to better understand Alpine's A521, admitting that his confidence level in his car is not where it needs to be.
The Spaniard's qualifying session came to a disappointing end in Q2 while Esteban Ocon made it to the final top-the shootout, the Frenchman becoming the first teammate to outqualify Alonso since Stoffel Vandoorne in Malaysia in 2017 with McLaren.
Alonso admitted to being disappointed to conclude his day P15 after qualifying among the top ten last month in Bahrain. But the two-time world champion candidly acknowledged that he felt responsible for the under-performance.
“I was not fast,” he said. “The car felt good, balance was good, and every time I finished the lap, I was quite happy with how it felt, but it definitely was too slow to be higher on the classification.
“It's going to be a tough race starting at the back. Imola is not well-known for overtaking opportunities, so you know that it is going to be a race to struggle a little bit at the back.”
Alpine made a few set-up changes between FP3 and qualifying, but Alonso believes his main issue is the fact that he doesn't yet feel comfortable at the wheel of car that he has yet to fully understand.
“I don't think [the changes] made a huge impact on the performance, to be honest,” Alonso said.
“If I was feeling the car differently in qualifying than in FP3, maybe I could understand that we did something in the wrong direction or something, but the car felt good in qualifying and felt the same as FP3, so I guess it's more down to me.
“When you are talking about two- or three-tenths making [up] five or six places, it is difficult to be 100% sure, but I guess I need to get better," admitted the 39-year-old.
“I need to understand better where is the limit of the car, maybe in difficult tracks. On demanding circuits like this one, you need to have a trust level in the car. These old-school tracks require some trust in the car and confidence to push at the limit while qualifying arrives.
“Maybe I'm not into that level yet. I will try to improve for the next one.”