Fernando Alonso and McLaren F1 happy with qualifying results in Barcelona

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The two-time world champion qualified eighth in his Renault-powered McLaren for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix - but wound up more than 1.5 seconds off the record-breaking pace set by pole-sitter and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso admitted the result left him with mixed feelings, happy that McLaren has taken a step forward but aware that the gap to the front is still significant. P13 in the last three qualifying (sessions) so it's definitely a step forward. "That's what we wanted today and I am happy right now". "I think we caught up a little bit with Renault and Haas as well but the top three teams keep developing the vehicle at the same rate that we do and keep that gap unfortunately". The feeling was positive in the auto, and we ended up very close to Q3 - Fernando just made it - which shows the parts we've brought here are working well. We just need new parts as soon as possible and to keep going in this direction. Probably the downside of this is still the gap. "But luckily we had a good race, we had a good strategy with a good call for only one stop and we took those four points".

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Fernando Alonso believes McLaren have closed up on their key midfield rivals - but still trail the front-runners by a similar margin as before - after giving their upgraded auto a points-scoring result in his home Spanish GP. "In another way, this auto, is supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix package", he told Sky. In another way, this vehicle is supposed to be the Australian Grand Prix package and that delay on bringing the first improvements and having them not in the first race, having them here, probably put us in a hard 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 now we need to push the development and we need to bring new parts every single race".

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The Spaniard finished where he started, after being the only driver to start the race on the red-striped supersoft tyre in Barcelona.

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