Errors at the start and end of Spanish GP qualifying resulted in what felt like a missed opportunity for Fernando Alonso on home soil.
The Aston Martin driver went into qualifying as seemingly Max Verstappen’s biggest threat for pole position, though it was an uncharacteristic off day for the Spaniard in front of his home fans.
The troubles started with an off over the gravel for Alonso out of the final corner in Q1, that occurring at the end of his out-lap as he prepared to wind up for a first timed attempt on a greasy Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
That then would rather set the scene for his tricky Saturday, as while he cleared the Q1 and Q2 hurdles, Alonso did so with a floor which was now “completely destroyed”.
“Q1 probably did compromise everything today,” he said, as per The Race.
“I did a mistake, I went on the damp part of the circuit, I guess, in the last corner because I lost the car, and then it was very costly because that gravel completely destroyed the floor.
“And yeah, it hurts even more because it’s the out-lap, I wasn’t even pushing. It was not a push lap, it was the out-lap.”
But even while now nursing a wounded Aston Martin AMR23 through the remainder of qualifying, Alonso claimed that the front row was on “probably even with the floor as it was”.
The window of opportunity had been very much opened by the surprise exits of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and the Mercedes of George Russell before Q3.
A further error from Alonso though put an end to those hopes of what would have been a great recovery effort.
“In the Q3 lap I was coming for 1:12.7, until Turn 10, that again I ran wide into the damp part on the outside,” Alonso recalled.
“So when I saw now that 1m12.7s is P2 and P3, I was surprised.”
Saturday then did not quite go to plan for Alonso, though from P8 on the grid, he now turns his attentions to race day on Sunday.
It is in race trim where the AMR23 seems to really excel against the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari, and so while he is not convinced that a podium finish is possible, having claimed five across the opening six rounds, making the top five is very much Alonso’s target.
“It was not my best Saturday, hopefully a good Sunday tomorrow,” he told Sky F1.
“Maybe the podium is a little bit too far away at the moment starting P9, but top five I think is something that we should target.
“We have the pace, we have a good degradation, and let’s see with the new layout if it’s easier or worse to overtake and what we can do in the strategy.
“But yeah, today as I said, it was not my best day and I’m sorry for the team and the fans. But tomorrow is the race and we will give it all.”
Alonso will go into the race hoping to relieve Red Bull’s Sergio Perez of P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, Perez’s advantage currently standing at 12 points.