Fernando Alonso felt “optimistic” despite recording his second worst qualifying result of the season in Austria.
For a car that has shown its strength in low-speed corners, it came as little surprise to see the AMR23 struggle to make the most of the challenges on offer at the Red Bull Ring.
Alonso finished P7 in Friday’s qualifying while his team-mate out-qualified him for just the second time since the new pairing came together at the start of this season.
Despite finishing behind both the Ferraris as well as the McLaren of Lando Norris, Alonso was “optimistic” about his chances on Friday suggesting potential rain on Saturday could help him during the sprint.
“I feel good after that qualifying session,” Alonso said. “It’s always intense qualifying here where the lap times are so close.
“If you look at the timing board throughout the three sessions, there are two or three tenths between a number of cars. We had one lap time deleted in Q2, which forced us to put an extra set of tyres on the car to progress. It then meant we only had one chance on new tyres in Q3, which wasn’t ideal.
“However, sixth and seventh are strong starting positions for us. I think it’ll be interesting and exciting with the weather as there is a chance of rain tomorrow and maybe dry conditions on Sunday. The car feels good, so I’m optimistic heading into the rest of the weekend.”
The P7 start is the second worst of Alonso’s season ahead of only his P8 during the Spanish Grand Prix. In that race, Alonso moved up just a single spot to finish seventh.
For Lance Stroll meanwhile, he was pleased to have a good starting position ahead of what could be “some slightly challenging weather conditions” during the sprint.
“I was happy with how the AMR23 was feeling today and pleased with my final lap,” Stroll said. “I think we got everything we could have out of that qualifying session.
“Track limits were tight and I had a couple of laps deleted as I was trying to really commit to those fast corners, but it was the same for everyone and something we’re used to around this circuit.
“It looks like we could be in for some slightly challenging weather conditions for the sprint events tomorrow, so it’s good to have a solid starting position on the board as we look ahead to Sunday’s race.”