Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017

Alonso expecting “difficult weekend” for McLaren

2017 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso is braced for a tough start to the 2017 F1 season at McLaren following the team’s struggles in testing.

Repeated problems with its Honda power unit limited the team to no more than a dozen laps at a time over the eight days of pre-season running.

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Interactive: Compare the F1 cars of 2017
“After a difficult two weeks of testing we’re prepared to face a difficult weekend in Melbourne,” said Alonso.

He said the team has had little time to react in a major way to the problems it has experienced. “We’ll do our best with what we have and there’s a lot of hard work and collaboration happening within the team, but the lack of time before the first race means you have fewer options for big changes.”

“The first step will be to work on reliability before we can make any assumptions or predictions about performance, and we will try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can.”

Honda F1 head Yusuke Hasegawa admitted it “won’t be an easy weekend” for the team but believes the manufacturer is making progress with its V6 hybrid turbo.

“In terms of performance, there has been room for improvement with mapping in order to have better driveability, and with further analysis we were able to make additional changes to be ready for Melbourne,” he said.

“We know we are heading in the right direction and we’ll continue our efforts in order to increase our competitiveness throughout the season.”

“It has been a challenging winter for everyone at the team,” he added. “Obviously the problems we had in Barcelona limited our track time and put added pressure on our pre-season preparations, however, we were still able to generate a huge amount of useful data.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 73 comments on “Alonso expecting “difficult weekend” for McLaren”

    1. Weekend you say?

      1. @hunocsi beat me to it

        Sounds confident doesn’t he?

      2. @hunocsi Poor Alonso, from the star of the field to mocking stock.

        1. @xtwl Make no mistake, people like you and me are the ones who make him the mocking stock. We expect teams such as Sauber, Manor, Toro Rosso and such to be near the back of the field, so there’s no harsh criticism, partially because the are (or were in case of Manor) privateers. McLaren itself is a privateer as well, just like Williams, but both have significant factory backing combined with the budget to back it up.

      3. I get your point and it’s a valid one, albeit a little sarcastic. The only way to get through difficult times like McLaren-Honda are currently experiencing is by tackling each race on its own right now. So yeah, I get Alonso.

        1. Push red button for humour mode. ;)

    2. Luckily he also had a ‘difficult’ 2016 and a ‘challenging’ 2015 to prepare for it.

    3. You misspelled year.

      1. nelson piquet
        20th March 2017, 23:45

        and you misspelled all seasons with a gp3 engine

        1. You misspelled GP2…

          1. nelson piquet
            21st March 2017, 11:21

            nope i think it’s a gp3 engine

          2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            21st March 2017, 11:35

            You misspelled F2…

    4. In other news: earth Is apparently not the Center of the Solar System!

    5. @davidtyrrell that’s funny 😂
      I Think his jet will be kept warm on the runway……
      I really hope Honda/McLaren can pull something out of hat and get on the right track. But I fear it will be another dismal year for the Woking squad….

    6. Well, at least the engine will be have marginally better driveability until it blows up. Twelve laps should be just enough for Q1 I guess, then they can plonk a new one in for the race.

      1. @george 107% rule

    7. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      20th March 2017, 21:10

      What an utter joke Honda is.

    8. I have a feeling a McLaren will be in q3 if it holds together. Whether it can finish the race is doubtful but they are no worse than RB in 2014. This weekend some teams people thought were good will be disapointing and others better than expected.

    9. One of the greats not fulfilling his destiny for one reason or another. Alonso has wasted his prime years through bad management and choices. He could have been statistically the most successful driver of all time. Love the guy, such a shame.

      1. nelson piquet
        20th March 2017, 23:47

        everyone could be the statistically most soccesful driver of all time when given the right car. sadly it will be hamilton some day

        1. I doubt it. Another 5 championships is a lot. Especially when you consider Hamilton has been around since 2007.
          The same goes for his number of race victories. Hamilton is closer to retirement than he is to beating Schumacher’s stats.

          1. nelson piquet
            21st March 2017, 23:31

            didn’t he say somewhere that he will stay another 8-10 years? make the merc in 4 of them the best car and he is the most succesful

    10. Sigh….

    11. Tonderai Dhliwayo
      20th March 2017, 22:52

      Not really a big fan of Alfonso , but you got to feel sorry for the guy .Just look at all that pain in his eyes.

    12. Flash Formula
      20th March 2017, 22:52

      I think the big factor going into Melbourne is can McLaren get within the 107% and if they do, can they then finish the race! I feel this could be McLarens worst ever year! I hope I’m wrong! :)

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        21st March 2017, 13:17

        Not sure why all these 107% mentions. McLaren was typically 3% behind the fastest car in Barcelona.

        1. banter? at least in my case

    13. I forgot about the 107% rule!
      If McHonda fails to achieve it, will they be unable to race?

      1. They can appeal to the race stewards to race if they don’t make the 107% rule. Personally I think the stewards should deny their request because it will be obvious how far off the pace they are and only a matter of time before they break down and require a VSC or full safety car period to remove them from the track.

        1. “Personally I think the stewards should deny their request because it will be obvious how far off the pace they are and only a matter of time before they break down and require a VSC or full safety car period to remove them from the track.”

          I agree…so sad!

        2. mark jackson
          21st March 2017, 2:23

          Mclaren’s fastest time in testing was 1m21.6, the fastest overall time in testing was 1m18.1. Mclaren are only 3.5% slower, so they’re well within the 107% rule.

          1. Tommy Scragend
            21st March 2017, 9:49

            3.5 seconds slower, which on those figures is 4.5%

            (81.6 seconds – 78.1 seconds = 3.5 seconds. 3.5 / 78.1 = 4.48%)

            But even so, they were within the 107% time, which on those times you mention would have been 1m23.6.

            1. ExcitedAbout17
              21st March 2017, 13:24

              McLaren was 1:21.3,
              and overall the fastest time was 1:18.6

              Thus overall gap a ‘mere’ 2.7sec.

            2. McLaren: 81.389 s. Ferrari: 78.634 s.
              81.389 / 78.634 = 103.5%
              Simple as that. They are safe.

              For McLaren to be caught by 107% rule they’d have to be 5.5 seconds off-pace (78.634 s * 107% = 84.138 s).

          2. Thank you for actually looking at the facts

    14. Estaban de los Casas
      21st March 2017, 0:57

      Brilliantly said Lano…

    15. Estaban de los Casas
      21st March 2017, 1:04

      Alonso could be starting along side Hamilton this weekend. Yes it would be done if he chose to. Instead his talent is WASTED again in this Mickey Mouse team called McLaren. Fool me three times with false belief that Honda had turned the corner on development and l then become the fool. Sorry Fernando but your are the fool and so it is recorded in the History Books….and it hurts us your fans who believed that you were the next great one.

      1. @ Estaban

        You are speculating. Alonso took a chance on McLaren because Ferrari was not improving and as of now they still may be well behind Merc.

        I don’t fault him for going for it – life is a gamble…

        1. true. hamilton going to mercedes was a risk at the time but in his case it paid off. many drivers have made the same fortunate/unfortunate choices over the years (alesi to williams?) and many more will get it wrong in the future.

          1. Senna to Williams (in yerms of looked like a stick on title but Benneton had the edge)

    16. If either McLaren should make it to the race, doubtful on several counts (reliability, 107% rule), neither will actually complete the race. This is shaping up to be a more dreadful season than 2015 for McLaren/Honda. Does anyone really believe Honda will achieve the magic breakthrough that will get McLaren back to nearly mediocre?

    17. I feel sorry for the drivers these days as there is very little they can do personally when their car is so incredible underpowered.

      I think they’d be happier if the PU manufacturers at least “turned it up to 11” so they could be competitive even if only for a few laps before it blew up. Instead they get no power because the manufacturer is afraid it will blow up so they keep it at around 75% max so they can save face and say “at least its reliable”.

      Funnily enough for Honda that doesn’t work either so why don’t they just give them full beans and see where it gets to.

    18. I suppose McLaren can turn the wick up just for qualifying. Take an all or nothing approach. We are all waiting for qualifying come Saturday to get a better idea of the pecking order, yet we never think about where McLaren may actually be. Yes, the probably won’t finish the race, and if they turn it down to indeed finish, they’ll get lapped up. But for Saturday afternoon things may be quite different. I think they can make Q3. (How long they last come the race is a different matter).

    19. Just think Alonso has never actually had a dominant car in his whole career as enjoyed more recently by Vettel, Hamilton and Rosberg.

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        21st March 2017, 7:51


        1. One could say that the McLaren was quicker than the Renault, but just kept breaking up.

          1. @toiago

            And to finish first, first you have to finish. When people talk about 2012 they also say Vettel had the dominant car despite the McLaren actually being faster.

    20. I’ve never been a fan of Alonso (the person). Something about him from his time at Ferrari always got me the wrong way. So there was this little part of me that felt glee at McLaren’s misfortunes when it applied to Alonso.

      But I’ve always admired Alonso (the driver). As a driver, his skill and attitude are tremendous.

      And now, the apparent continuation of McLaren’s troubles into 2017 is starting to sicken me. I just want to see Alonso fighting at the pointy end with those drivers in the top 3 teams. I might not be supporting Alonso if he gets into a scrap with those drivers, but boy-oh-boy, he’ll make it exciting and worth our time!

      1. I share the feeling but applied to McLaren @phylyp, as a kid I supported Ferrari (just to mess with my father who supported McLaren and they were the same colour as my football team), nowadays it does hurt to see them like this ( I also evolved to be very neutral regarding the teams as I started understanding the sport).

        Regarding Alonso, I also admire his talent, but have general dislike with his persona. I think what triggers it for me is the fact that, in some way or another he was involved with the most recent scandals in F1 (spygate, crashgate, team orders…).

        Also I don’t agree and don’t understand some comments about his situation (things like “poor Alonso” “he is so unlucky”), his career developed due to his decisions. And everybody seems to forget the guy on the other side of the garage (this happened with Button as well), people should have very clear in their minds that no team owes anything to their drivers, at the end of the day they are employees and it is their job to push the team forward regardless of the circumstances.

      2. I’m with you on this. I like Alonso the racer – not so much outside the race car. I think most F1 fans, other than detractors, are upset from being robbed of seeing him fight against Vettel, Hamilton and others.
        What a waste of talent!

    21. There is one thing that still baffles me. Perhaps someone with insight can help me out.

      If I were designing an engine, then after it runs on a dyno I would put it into a car. Not an actual F1 car, that would be expensive, but there are loads of high performance cars that can hit 300 km/h on a good circuit and their bodywork offers more room than an F1 car, so installation should not be a problem, and with better access to components. All cars are run by a computer these days, so tweaking the software to resemble the actual F1 car should not be that hard either (?). And such a car could be run day and night.

      Yet it seems (again!) as if Barcelona testing was the first time Honda engineers actually saw their creation in hot action for the first time.

      1. That sort of tests aren’t allowed under the current set of regulations.

        1. @johnmilk
          Why not? If I remember correctly, teams are not allowed to run cars that go two seasons back but they can run older F1 cars. So why an engine manufacturer could not run one of those McLaren supercars with a new engine? Honda might even get a discount on one from Mclaren.

          1. those cars are used in promotion events only and were also adapted for the pireli tests.

            why is a different question, you will have to ask Jean Todt that.

            either way, no excuse for Honda there, just as @lancer033 says below, they have other ways of testing the engine

      2. don’t need to go that far, just put it on an engine dyno and simulate the loads from a race. Not sure what the limits are under the rules for that are, but they can “run” race after race on a dyno simulating the actual circuits they’ll be on in real life.

        1. @lancer033

          No such thing as a dyno which can simulate the 5G+ that the engine will experience during a race. Not that it’s an excuse – the situation i the same for all the manufacturers. Honda just aren’t good enough to be in F1.

          Although it’s a convenient excuse for McLaren at the minute. I suspect if they had a Mercedes engine they’d have an entirely different set of issues.

          1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv53RbvgfGc
            This is the kind of test rig i was speaking of, not perfect (nothing is), but pretty darn close.

    22. 1. make a worse engine than last year
      2. declare that you know are heading in the right direction
      3. repeat next year

    23. I have never had favorite drivers, always been a team supporter – Ferrari. And as a Ferrari supporter (since early 2000s when I started watching F1), Renault, Red Bull and Mclaren have been the largest competition. So, I have kind of gone from hating Alonso (Renault in 2006), to adoring him even more than Schumi (Ferrari in 2012) and now back to not supporting him (last 2 years).

      I can’t describe how I feel for Alonso now. I felt affronted when he made the comments in 2013 (and some in 2012 also) where he wished for someone else’s car and said that Ferrari was a very slow car and it was he who was making it look awesome. Reading this insightful article (3 years ago) http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/f1/mattiacci-and-alonso-real-story
      made me sure that seeing the back of Alonso was going to be good for Ferrari. But although, I don’t care for Alonso or for Mclaren at all, seeing both of them together in such a terrible terrible situation is a difficult sight.

    24. I’m starting to feel like Alonso is the one thing that is keeping this team together. Major sponsors were lost in the last couple of years, the switch to Honda has been… and finally key figures were either fired or friends of someone who got fired, which meant they had to go as well. It doesn’t sound like a healthy partnership with Honda to say the least. Now I know Japanese are not prone to openly discuss internal issues, but Brits shouldn’t have a problem with this at all. Look at Red Bull: they publicly put pressure on Renault in a way that engines were labeled Tag Heuer (since it was just a matter of time before it broke down again) and their B team switched to year old Ferrari engines. I at least expected McLaren to do the same.

      Final thought: I’m seriously afraid that McLaren will lose Fernando in 2018, which is very plausible seeing that a lot of driver contracts expire at the end of this season: Valtteri, Seb, Felipe, Kimi, Lance and Jolyon. The most likely move I foresee is Renault if they manage to put themselves around the 5th/6th constructors place this year and constantly showing progress.

      1. Fernando to Mercedes… Hamilton Retires, after Vettel takes 5th Championship.

      2. I agree, Merc knows better than to pair those two.
        Renault would be the most likely seat.

    25. It all makes perfect sense. Alonso back-stabbed McLaren. They never forgot. When he made him self available to them, this is their revenge. Alonso should never have gone back to McLaren. End of conspiracy theory. Brought to you by ‘Alt-Facts Inc’.

      1. Bad Karma 101 also the reason why Mercedes is reluctant to take him on.

        1. All the bad karma posts makes me giggle.

          The guy makes 40 million Euro’s a year, escaped death last year and has his choice of women. His good karma far outweighs his bad.

          Sure, another WDC would be nice but I doubt he’ll lose sleep over it.

      2. @Tiomkin True. He black mailed McLaren-Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz bad to pay for that massive fine of £100 Mil. And they where taken of the WCC wich was in the bag basically. So Alonso to Mercedes will never happen, i personally like see him sufferkng at McLaren 😊😊

    26. Well, at least McLaren can surprise us the most from all teams.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        21st March 2017, 13:44

        I’d be surprised ;)

    27. Last year for Alonso at McLaren, last year for Raikkonnen at Ferrari. Alonso joins Ferrari and Vettel in 2018 for the most epic battle for the championship in the recent times. You heard it here first.

      1. @alext Mate. That will never happen after gave Alonso the boot, Mercedes is no option either, same goes for RBR. He dug his own grave if you ask me.

    28. Well it´s tough for alonso…
      From the McLaren point of view i really don´t see a reason why they should shit themselves. The token system is off, so they can develop freely, and they have a contract untill 2025. It is possible that they have the best engine at the end of this season, and dominate 2018-2025…
      Still better than having an mercedes, ferrari or renault engine and having the guarantee that your engine is 2nd best @ best.
      It´s just the beginning of the 3rd year, and to be fair, honda chose the worst possible time to enter with a bad engine (2015).
      Never forget that having “good” results is nice and fine, but what they all really want is being world champions, and thats impossible for a customer-team.

    29. Well in a minority of probably one….I share everyones despair on the Honda engine….but yet now they have copied some of the Mercedes thinking on it…then once they get it remapped so it actually can be driven faster, and also get on top of its reliability..which I think they felt they had or at least solutions too after the 2nd test..then hopefully we may all get a surprise…..potential is still there
      However if after the first 6 races it continues to be trouble…..please just scrap it…and why have they not strapped it in to a GP chassis, or anything and just pounded around their own track…surely that is allowed

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