McLaren more competitive than expected - Alonso


Fernando Alonso said McLaren's performance in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix was a "huge surprise" despite failing to make it into Q3. 

Alonso and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button will start Sunday's race from 12th and 13th respectively after being eliminated in Q2 under the new qualifying format. 

Despite missing out on the top 10, the performance was far better than last year's race in Melbourne, when the pair of former world champions started from the back row.

Alonso was upbeat in regards to the team's pace and said it had exceeded all expectations coming into Albert Park. 

"I'm super happy with the car, because we were a lot more competitive than we expected after testing, and that's the best news," the two-time Formula One world champion said.

"We were in the top 10 all the time, 1.2 seconds off the Mercedes, so that was a huge surprise."

The Spaniard added: "I didn't have any hopes of going into Q3. It's a very exclusive group.

"There are just eight cars and we need quite a bit to be in that group.

"But when we had the new tyres we were 10th ahead of [Daniel] Ricciardo and ahead of other people that we would not have imagined. 

"So I'm very happy. If we had had another set of tyres, we would have been close to Q3, too."

Button echoed his team-mates comments and believes McLaren will be more competitive in the race than in qualifying. 

"P12, P13, slightly better than I, actually, expected coming here," the Brit said.

"So I don't think it's too bad a starting point - much better than what we had last year."

"I think we've probably got a better race car than a qualifying car, to be fair."