Fernando Alonso said he had never been so happy with fourth place on the grid after admitting he was fortunate to complete qualifying after damaging his Ferrari in contract with an “aggressive” Daniil Kvyat.
The Spaniard came together with the Toro Rosso rookie – who was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards – during the second phase of the the rain-hit Sepang qualifying session, Kvyat attempting to pass Alonso up the inside of Turn Nine but instead hitting the side of the F14 T as the Ferrari came across to take the corner.
The impact broke part of the Ferrari’s front-left suspension, and although it initially looked as though Alonso wouldn’t be back out on track and therefore drop out in Q2, the team’s mechanics made full use of the resultant red-flag period to repair the car and send it back on its way.
From there Alonso went on to claim fourth on the grid behind the two Mercedes’ and Sebastian Vettel – just his second second-row start in the last 11 months – and admitted he was very relieved to be starting so high up, particularly as the car was still not perfect to drive.
“The mechanics did a fantastic job,” Alonso told Sky Sports F1.