"The conditions were very difficult today and in these situations you need a bit of luck"
Hungaroring, Saturday 28 July
The final free practice before today’s qualifying session was rendered unrepresentative since it took place in dry and sunny conditions. Fernando and Stoffel ran through their specific run programmes – Stoffel’s session halted temporarily for a planned floor change – and the pair finished in 14th and 17th respectively.
Thirty minutes before qualifying, the heavens opened and storms began rumbling, leading to a last-minute change in strategy for everyone in the pit-lane. A dramatic session ensued as the drivers were forced into quick tyre strategy decisions to adapt to the ever-worsening conditions. Fernando qualified just outside the top 10 in P11, with Stoffel in 16th.
Although the track became damp very quickly, and both Fernando and Stoffel did their first run of Q1 on Intermediate tyres, it wasn’t quite wet enough to offer an advantage as the humidity meant the track dried quicker than anticipated. Both drivers opted to change back to Ultrasoft tyres for their second and final run of Q1, which provided quicker lap-times.
Both were running in the top 10 for most of the session given the topsy-turvy state of play across the entire field. Stoffel finished his second run just as the track conditions were further improving and the cars around him were finding drier lines. As a result, there wasn’t enough time left in the session to return to the track, and he missed out on a pass through to Q2.
Conversely, the conditions worsened again in Q2, with Fernando completing three runs on Ultrasofts, Intermediates and then full Wets consecutively as the rain intensified. Fernando set his fastest lap on his second run, but as the session came to a close, the rain was so heavy that any lap-time improvement was impossible, and Fernando missed out on an opportunity for Q3.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Driver
FP3 14th 1m18.467s (+2.297s) 15 laps
Q1 9th 1m18.208s (on Ultrasofts)
Q2 11th overall 1m35.214s (on Intermediates)
“The conditions were very difficult today and in these situations you need to have a bit of luck and be on track at the right time.
“We haven’t been very competitive this weekend and in Q1 we were already a bit concerned that we wouldn’t make it through to Q2. Thanks to the rain we managed to get to P11, which is a good place, close to the points zone. Starting positions here are quite important and we are probably further up than we thought we would be.
“At the end of Q2 the heavy rain was affecting the last part of the track, so we decided to attempt another run on extreme Wet tyres, knowing that we would probably be slower, but we tried anyway.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Driver
FP3 17th 1m18.789s (+2.619s) 14 laps
Q1 16th overall 1m18.782s (on Ultrasofts)
“It was quite tricky out there today – especially at the start of qualifying – to know what tyre to be on and make the right call about slick tyres, because the track was still quite hot from the sun during the day.
“Every time we crossed the line on a timed lap we were competitive, in the top 10 on both the Intermediates and on the slicks as well. It was all about being on track at the right time, and we were just a bit out of sequence as we had to box the car about one minute before the end of Q1 so we didn’t get that final lap, right when the track was at its driest. That just wasn’t enough to get through to Q2.
“It’s always a bit of a gamble in these conditions, as it can play out to be good or bad. It’s unfortunate, but these things happen. We tried hard.”
GIL DE FERRAN, Sporting Director
“Today’s conditions provided us with a bit of a lottery with regards to traffic management, tyre choice and run plan, particularly during Q1 and Q2.
“The weather was very unstable and therefore a lot of the qualifying positions are unrepresentative, which quite frankly could make for a very interesting and exciting race tomorrow.
“We got a little bit unlucky with Stoffel this afternoon. Nevertheless, on Fernando’s side our qualifying was a bit more reflective of our real pace. We’re in a good position to fight for points tomorrow and I would welcome some more changeable weather to give the fans a good show at the Hungarian Grand Prix.”