Alonso optimistic about Silverstone pace despite penalties

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Fernando Alonso was pleased with the pace of his McLaren on Friday at the British Grand Prix after securing top 10 finishes in both sessions.

In the last few races, the British team has enjoyed a slightly positive turn with the first points of the year in Baku and decent pace in Austria before the Spaniard was taken out at Turn 1 by Daniil Kvyat.

Honda too is making some progress with the introduction of the Spec 3 engine from Spielberg, albeit an engine problem at the last race has meant new components for Alonso this weekend and another back of the grid start.

“I’m pretty happy with how my day went, the double world champion said in reflection. "We’ve got several options we need to look at now, to choose the best one for tomorrow, but we’ve mainly been concentrating on race pace because we know that we’ll start from the back.

“As we know, the lap-times are not that significant on a Friday. For the last couple of races we’ve been between eighth and 12th position, so we have to wait and see what happens tomorrow."

Tyres are likely to be one method McLaren will look to use to help Alonso make some progress in the race, with a two-stop strategy likely and plenty of new rubber to be available but then there's another key factor the team has to consider.

“The main issue here is choosing what level of downforce you want to have," the 35-year-old explained. "Depending on how much power you have, you add some wing on to be fast in the corners and defend yourself on the straights, or if you have little power and you want to be reasonably okay on the straights you have to use the smallest wing you have. It’s difficult to judge.”

Optimising performance is also important for teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who, after a good morning, slipped down the order during the afternoon.

“Today has actually been a pretty good start to our weekend," said the Belgian. "Given that this is a long circuit, with a lot of high-speed corners, I think our car has been performing well – I felt pretty comfortable out there.

“As usual, the times in the midfield are very close, so it’ll be the tiniest details that will make a difference during qualifying tomorrow. At the moment, we’re still exploring the car’s limits – particularly in the Becketts section of the lap. I think both Fernando and I had a moment during that part of the lap – just losing the rear on the entry of the final section.

“Fernando and I have been trying a lot of different downforce configurations throughout today’s sessions. Now I think we have a very good idea of what we should run tomorrow – we’ve done a lot of learning on that front.”