Fernando Alonso says he and McLaren-Honda ‘surely did something wrong’ after failing to reach Q3 in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, but the Spaniard admits they have yet to pinpoint the reason behind the team’s lack of speed around Suzuka.
Alonso will line up a lowly 15th on the grid for Honda’s home race, with team-mate Jenson Button a couple of places behind in 17th.
Despite showing top-10 pace on Friday, the double world champion had already warned that Mclaren would be likely to drop down the order throughout the rest of the weekend.
“For sure we wanted to do better, for Honda and for the fans, for everybody, but since the start of FP1 we didn’t get the best balance of the car,” Alonso said. “But even when we were happy with the balance, like in FP3, after we changed a lot of things overnight, we weren’t quick. We need to analyse and understand what has happened.
“If we knew what was missing we would have made the necessary changes in the car. This is a track that requires a lot of efficiency and with very long straights. Particularly in the corners we are lacking power because of the lateral G-forces.
“This being a high-speed track there’s a compromise with the aerodynamic set-up, so we surely did something wrong because we’re not as competitive as of recent.”
After assessing it in Sepang last weekend, Alonso has been running the latest Honda upgrade in Japan. But the 35-year-old insists expectations about the evolution have been misplaced.
“As I said in Malaysia and have repeated here, the engine upgrade was just aimed at improving the reliability of the power unit.
“Somehow people always believe we get extra power with every new upgrade, especially with this being Honda’s home race, but both power units have the same power, it’s just that mine will be able to cover more laps.”