Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso believes his crash in the final part of Australian Grand Prix qualifying cost him and his Alpine team a top-three grid slot.
Alonso was on a stellar lap and had set the fastest middle sector when he slid wide at turn 11 and skirted across the gravel before hitting a barrier and red-flagging the session.
After citing hydraulic issues as the cause over team radio, speaking to Sky Sports F1, Alonso explained: “I could not change gear and the steering became very heavy, so I guess we lost the power steering and things like that.
“I don’t know if we could fight for pole because that’s a big thing, but for sure top three.
"I think that lap was enough for top three and we had two sets of new tyres because we saved them in Q1 and Q2, so it is so frustrating.”
Alonso was having “best weekend in years”
The Spanish driver returned to F1 last year following a two-season sabbatical, going on to finish 10th in the championship which included a podium with a third-place finish in Qatar.
Regulation changes for this season have jumbled the F1 order and the Alpine A522 showed promise during pre-season testing, but while Esteban Ocon finished seventh and sixth in the first two races, Alonso has not fared so well.
The Spaniard finished ninth in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix then retired from the race in Saudi Arabia with a water pump issue after 35 laps after qualifying seventh on the grid.
The damage from the qualifying crash in Melbourne leaves his team with a lot of work to do overnight but asked if he thinks it may require parts to be changed that would incur a penalty, he replied: “Honestly, right now I don’t care.
“I was probably doing my best weekend in years, even fighting for pole position. Now, whatever it is, we will take it.”