Alonso had been eighth after his first run, but dropped down as others improved on their second runs - and was then prevented from doing likewise by his tyre issues. Having also featured strongly in FP2, where he was just 0.972s off pacesetter Nico Rosberg - only the second time this year his deficit to the front has been under one second - the Spaniard insisted McLaren were moving in the right direction.
"It has been our best weekend so far in terms of how competitive we feel," he commented. "So it was cruel luck to get a puncture at possibly the most critical point of the whole weekend; the final run of Q1.
"That was unfortunate, because we'd been looking very competitive, and our car seems to be performing quite well around here.
"Starting at the back we have better pace than the cars in front, but the race will be difficult owing to our straight-line speed deficit - I think around 27 km/h on the straights. But I'll be aiming to make a good start, run a good strategy, and make up some positions. We'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Alonso also played down paddock speculation - which sprang from comments made by Ron Dennis, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Technology Group - that he could opt to take a sabbatical next year if McLaren's 2016 car disappoints in testing.
"I will be, I will be," Alonso insisted, when asked if he would be on the grid next year.
"I answer the same question to all your colleagues, when Ron says something you have the perfect opportunity to ask him to clarify his quotes.
"I don't know his intention - we all want to improve, we want to put the car in winter testing and see if we can improve and hope for the best."
Alonso has scored just 11 points amid McLaren's struggles this year. With Jenson Button on 16 points, Alonso must outscore the Briton by five points at Yas Marina if he is to avoid finishing a season behind his team mate for the first time in his F1 career.