Fernando Alonso revealed a broken floor had cost him a significantly better result than eighth in Australian Grand Prix qualifying.
The Spaniard was disappointed to find himself starting the sprint on the fourth row, even after Sergio Perez had been dropped nine positions from P4 to P13 for track limits violations following a post-session investigation by the stewards.
In particular, Alonso felt he should have been ahead of Haas duo Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, who will be immediately ahead of him on the sprint grid, and perhaps even his own Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon who will start fifth.
The reason for that is the damage his car had sustained in the opening 18-minute stint of qualifying.
“It felt good, it felt very competitive,” the 40-year-old told reporters afterwards. “Unfortunately we had a broken floor from Q1, so that compromised a little bit our performance.
“I think we were looking for top five, top six, so I think the car is good and should be good for tomorrow.”
Regarding his target for both the sprint and the grand prix itself, Alonso replied: “To recover some places tomorrow and more on Sunday, that’s the aim, step by step.”
Last weekend, at the British Grand Prix, Alonso was challenging the eventual podium finishers after the Safety Car restart in the closing laps before having to settle for fifth.
Asked if he can get in amongst the front-runners this time, he said: “I don’t think so. I think we are still a little step behind, but generally I think it has been a very competitive weekend so let’s try not to lose it tomorrow.”
Ocon, meanwhile, was pleased to have extracted his car’s potential in what has been another puzzling campaign at times for Alpine.
“Two good laps, to be fair, in Q3,” said the Frenchman. “Very pleased. The car felt good in Q2, and in Q3 suddenly it came alive.
“It was not the case in FP1 and at the beginning of qualy really, so pretty pleased with how we improved during the session. That’s the proper pace of the car and something we were looking for, for quite a while. We are touching it now but fully understanding it is another thing.”
As for his prospects for the sprint and grand prix, he added: “I’ve no idea how the race pace is because we haven’t done any long running yet. FP2 before the sprint is when we will see how the car feels on higher fuel and a bit of longer running, but I don’t expect that we can’t perform.”