Alonso: top teams still in 'another league'

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Alonso is the only driver in the top 10 who will start with supersoft tyres, having set his fastest time in Q2 with them. However, while not yet a cause for celebration, eighth and 11th positions on an aerodynamically-challenging track such as this mark our best qualifying session of the season so far, and is certainly the step forward we were hoping for on track to correlate with the evidence we saw in simulation.

Pre-season testing was not as straightforward as McLaren would have liked and its problems had a effect on the development on the auto. "I'm happy with the progress we did here at McLaren and the direction things are going - so I'm happy here, but it's quite demanding - especially the F1 calendar".

"I'm happy with that".

"That is a positive thing, the correlation with the factory".

Although McLaren aimed to be with the top teams in 2018, the Spaniard said the auto is actually "1.8 to 2 seconds behind".

He added: "Probably the downside of this position is still the gap, with the top six, they are in another league". We just need more new parts and as soon as possible.

Also hoping McLaren can improve with its "B" vehicle this weekend is Alonso's teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne.

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"That delay on the first improvement and not having it in the first race 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 from now on we need to push the development and bring new parts every single race".

"I'm attempting two world championships at the same time", he said, referring to F1 and the sports auto world endurance championship, which includes the classic Le Mans 24-Hours race.

Alonso, who skipped last year's Monaco Grand Prix to race the Indy 500, triumphed at the Six Hours of Spa last weekend to record his first race victory since 2013.

"I'm happy for the support and hopefully tomorrow we put on a good show for them".

"Always I come here and it seems it is bigger and bigger, people still as excited as every other year".

"We've said many times that we can't expect miracles overnight, and there is a long season ahead of us, but we feel today's result demonstrates the first step for us in the progressive development of the MCL33". Watch the Spanish GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday.