After qualifying competitively in the midfield for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne believe that the Woking squad and engine partner Honda are starting to show real progress.

The two drivers narrowly missed out on making it into Q3 at the Red Bull Ring, with Alonso qualifying twelfth-fastest and Vandoorne one spot further back.

The results partly come off the back of Honda’s introduction of a ‘Spec 3’ power unit this weekend, which saw both drivers finish in the top ten in Friday practice.

An MGU-H issue forced Alonso to revert to the ‘Spec 2’ design ahead of Saturday’s final practice and qualifying sessions, but despite this the Spaniard came within 0.052 seconds of moving into Q3.

“I feel we did the maximum today – I’m happy with our laps, our result and our performance in general this weekend,” Alonso said after qualifying.

“We had an unexpected change of engine, and I reverted back to the old spec today, so finishing P12 and feeling competitive all through quali was positive news.

“The team is working very hard to improve our situation: we bring aero updates to every race, we bring new engine specs whenever we can, and we’re definitely moving forwards. We still need to improve our reliability, but hopefully we’ll see further signs in the next couple of weeks.”

The two-time World Champion believed that his starting position will put him in contention for back-to-back points’ finishes if his MCL32 remains reliable.

“From twelfth place, with a good start or a good strategy, we could be in a position to score points,” he added.

Teammate Vandoorne was similarly full of praise for the team’s improved showing and is targeting his first points’ finish of the season on Sunday.

“It’s been a pretty good weekend for us so far,” the Belgian added. “Today really shows that every improvement we bring to the car is very valuable – it all helps.”

Image via McLaren

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.