Fernando Alonso is not optimistic about his chances of completing the Australian Grand Prix
McLaren have endured a miserable start to the year with their Honda power unit causing them endless problems during pre-season testing.
Even so, Fernando Alonso appeared to have some pace running in the Saturday morning practice session and he finished 12th in Q1.
But his team-mate Vandoorne, in just his second F1 qualifying, failed to finish better than 18th.
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The Belgian driver had to pull out of his first hot lap after the team radioed to inform him of a fuel flow issue which meant the car was down on power.
The problem could have ended their qualifying efforts but the McLaren team were able to get the car back on track in Q1.
However, Vandoorne was not able to hook up a fast lap and finished only ahead of Williams' Lance Stroll and Renault's Jolyon Palmer.
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Stoffel Vandoorne was forced to pull out of a run due to a fuel flow issue
McLaren will simply aim to get both cars to the finish line in Sunday's race
Alonso made it into Q2 but was eliminated and will start 13th in Sunday's Grand Prix.
"After the difficulties we encountered in winter testing, we came to Melbourne without a clear idea of where we stood," Alonso said.
"But we've more or less run through all the sessions without trouble – which is better than we'd expected.
"I had sufficient sets of tyres to be able to enjoy my laps in both Q1 and Q2.
"I was happy with the balance of the car and was able to really push it.
"That's useful because, at the moment, we need to extract the maximum out of the package we have.
"Tomorrow, we'll start 13th – in the middle of the pack – which is definitely not our target. Finishing the race is going to be tough.
"And, if we do finish it, to end up in a decent position we'll need help from the weather and for other cars to encounter trouble."