Q: Fernando, is the rate of development McLaren has put in to bring the team further up the grid giving you more confidence?
Fernando Alonso: We are very happy. The team did an amazing job in the last 12 months. We are in a better position that we have expected. Today in qualifying we have been ahead of one of the Force Indias, which a couple of months ago was difficult to imagine. Also we are only four-tenths behind Ferrari. This is something that gives everyone a boost here at the track and back home in the factory.
Q: Force India’s Nico Hulklenberg said that McLaren are the team to watch out for in the second half of the season. How much do you think you can take the fight to them - and Williams - already?
FA: In general it depends on the layout of the circuit. Here we are a bit concerned about our race pace, and there is some fuel saving to do tomorrow as well. I think that we will have some better opportunities tomorrow here in Canada.
Q: What then are your predictions for the race tomorrow?
FA: First of all we are very happy having managed to be in Q3 for the third consecutive time, especially here where we did not expect this to happen with so many long straights. If it rains tomorrow this might be good for our package and help us to have a better race pace. We are ready for any opportunity and we are ready to fight, as we do not have anything to lose.
We had to make difficult decisions all weekend long so far, especially to find the right downforce with the rear wing to balance the straight-line and corner speed. We chose to be a little bit quicker in the corners, and not on the straights, hoping that this will pay off tomorrow, hopefully scoring us some points.
Q: So there is a chance that you will surprise us?
FA: I honestly hope so. Today the job is done - and it was done in a very positive way - so let's see what fortune holds for us tomorrow! (laughs)
Q: How important is experience here and will it help? We’ve seen quite a few shunts in the last two days…
FA: Of course experience is important here - to keep a healthy gap between your car and the walls! This is also a tricky circuit and with the conditions we have and the level of grip in these mixed conditions, you need to keep calm to be able to bring the car to the chequered flag.
I have been racing here for years and hopefully I know some tricks that the young guys don’t know. Anyway, as I just said, I believe overall there are better circuits to come for us to show the state of our improvements. But I also must admit that I am ready for a good surprise!