Spanish GP: Fernando Alonso happy with McLaren improvements after qualifying eighth

McLaren's Fernando Alonso says he's happy after qualifying 8th for the Spanish GP but admits the team need to push on with development of the car.

Fernando Alonso declared himself happy with the progress McLaren have made with their car updates after securing their best qualifying result of the season at the Spanish GP.

Alonso will line up eighth on the grid on Sunday as McLaren’s heavily-revised MCL33 reached Q3 for the first time in F1 2018. Stoffel Vandoorne starts 11th having failed to make the top-10 shootout.

“I’m happy with that. P8 is a good position, I’ve been P13 the last three qualifying sessions,” two-time world champion Alonso told Sky Sports F1.

“We definitely made a step forward at this race. Everything that we bring to the track is delivering the expectations and the lap times that we were expecting from them.

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“That is a positive thing, the correlation with the factory. We just need more new parts and as soon as possible.”

Alonso arrives in Barcelona sixth in the Drivers’ Championship after finishing in the points in each of the opening four races, helping McLaren to their best start to a season since 2014.

The Spaniard was just four hundredths of a second slower than Kevin Magnussen who took the ‘best of the rest’ slot for Haas, but the lead McLaren was nine tenths off Daniel Ricciardo’s sixth-placed Red Bull.

Alonso challenged McLaren to push their development further to bring fresh parts to each race in an attempt to close the gap to the ‘big three’ teams.

“Probably the downside of this position is still the gap to the top six. They are in another league and we need to keep chasing and closing that gap race after race,” Alonso said.

“Definitely this package is making me happy. This car was supposed to be the Australian GP package but we have brought it here to Spain.

“That delay on the first improvement and not having it in the first race probably put us in a difficult position in the first couple of races. We saved them with a lot of points on Sundays with a little bit of luck and good races.

“But from now on we need to push the development and bring new parts every single race.”

Alonso hopes he can deliver his home crowd with a memorable race on Sunday, with lights out at 2.10pm exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.

“I recover I think on average six places per grand prix so if we do that tomorrow, I’ll be quite happy,” he joked.

“Always I come here and it’s bigger and bigger and the people are still as excited as every other year. They reset what has happened in the first races and they come here and they expect you to win and deliver the result.

“I’m happy for the support and hopefully tomorrow we put on a good show for them.”

Will Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes make it back-to-back victories at the Circuit de Catalunya? Watch the Spanish GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 from May 11-13. Get Sky Sports F1.

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