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McLaren hails 'stonking' lap from Alonso

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, British Grand Prix
© XPB 

It feels like it's been a very long time since McLaren had anything to smile about. But Fernando Alonso's Q1-topping lap on Saturday sparked cheers all around Silverstone.

Alonso gambled on going out at the end of the first round of qualifying on supersoft tyres, despite a track wet from persistent light rain. He timed the start of his final run to perfection and ended up beating the rest of the field by 1.314s.

It's the first time McLaren have headed a qualifying segment since the 2013 Indian Grand Prix, when Jenson Button was fastest in Q1.

"Fernando drove a stonking lap," beamed McLaren's sporting director Eric Boullier. "It was almost too close for comfort, he nearly didn’t get his Q1 lap in.

"Having crossed the line just in time, he made good his opportunity by totally nailing it. It was good to see. The crowd’s cheers were great to hear - our support here is simply fantastic."

"We took advantage of a track that was on the limit at that moment," remarked Alonso. "Even if it's just for one moment, to be up there at the top of the time sheets feels good.

"I think people need sometimes to see McLaren back on top of the times," he added. "I saw people in the grandstands excited [and] heard them cheering.

"It's good for the guys in the garage as well. They deserve it as they have been working so hard these past couple of years."

While Alonso will start Sunday's race from the back of the grid due to more power element penalties, his team mate Stoffel Vandoorne provided the team with even more cause for celebration.

The Belgian driver was in the top ten in every round of qualifying and made it into Q3. he will start the British Grand Prix from eighth place, the best grid position of his F1 career to date.

"To take part in Q3 at Silverstone was a bit unexpected," he admitted. "But I’ve been working very well for the past couple of races, and we’ve clearly seen the improvements.

"It’s obviously a pretty good feeling to have made that extra step," he said. "I think the mixed conditions really helped us today ... We maximised every chance we got."

"Stoffel has been very quick all weekend," said an ebullient Boullier. "It was great to see him duly get it all hooked up so well here today.

“It’ll be interesting to watch our drivers tomorrow," he predicted. "Rain or shine, they’ll both be giving it their all.

"Fernando will surely make rapid progress in the early laps. Stoffel will be striving to score his first world championship points of the season. Bonne chance!"

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