Fernando Alonso believes his 11th place grid position is actually something to look forward to, although he admitted that qualifying just outside the top ten should not be an achievement to be celebrated.
Alonso's P11 means the McLaren driver will have a free choice of tyres tomorrow, an advantage he is hoping to put to good use.
"This was probably the best position we could have dreamed of today, because we get a free choice of tyres for the race," explained the Spaniard.
"I’m starting on the clean side, so a lot of things have gone our way today. We were not quick enough, unfortunately.
"A couple of races ago we were entering Q3 and fighting for 7th and 8th places, which was nice. Now we’re fighting for 10th, so it’s probably better to be 11th."
The former world champion recognized that his McLaren's pace was not good enough for him to fight further up the ranks on his own merit.
"We’re struggling a little bit for pace and I think it will be the same thing for the remaining races. For us P11 is the best possible position, so I’m happy with today’s performance but we need to understand why we’re not as competitive as we were recently.
"We’ve put everything into the 2017 car so maybe we’re paying the price for that decision. Tomorrow everything will be unknown, so we have to go into the race with an open strategy."
Pirelli is recommending a two-stop race, with Alonso expecting to start on the Soft tyre compound before running a longer distance on the Medium rubber, avoiding completely the less durable SuperSofts.
But circumstances or changing conditions may entice McLaren to play a wild card on the strategy front.
"The SuperSoft has been degrading a lot in the practice sessions, so it would be very risky to start with it tomorrow.
"But the track is improving and there's a better feeling with the tyres, so we'll see. We have that possibility that the top 10 don't have so we'll try to seize it."
"As far as I’m concerned if I finish ahead of Jenson that’s all I want," concluded the Spaniard tongue-in-cheek, with Button standing by his side.