McLaren’s Spanish driver Fernando Alonso gestures during a press conference at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 11, 2017 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.
Honda’s F1 engine is said to be about 120bhp behind the pace-setting Mercedes and Ferrari units, which produce close to 1000bhp, and there are widespread rumours that Mercedes are to assist Honda with their engine technology in an attempt to help the Japanese company catch up.
Exactly four years on from his last victory, which he claimed at the same circuit, Alonso’s home race weekend got off to a miserable start as his auto broke down after just three corners in FP1.
Alonso is enduring a wretched start to the season.
Alonso dropped down the order and eventually finished in 12th position, the first time he has reached the chequered flag this season.
” I get the impression that when we do not have trouble on Fridays and Saturdays, we are unable to finish the race on Sunday. Completely unacceptable”, Alonso said, while ominously adding that he still didn’t know what had caused the breakdown in Sochi.
Alonso’s auto promptly overheated heading into turn 3 of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and a massive leak caused the vehicle to snap out from underneath him. None of the parties will say so outright, but collusion is going on.
“Hopefully we improve the situation, not only the performance side but the reliability because sometimes we could take some points and the past and we had to stop the vehicle”. But sitting alongside Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa, a smiling Alonso refused to divulge what amount of his two-second deficit to the pole position lap of Lewis Hamilton the McLaren team believe is Honda’s responsibility.
The 35-year-old insists his priority is to remain in F1, but warned that he may look elsewhere if McLaren-Honda does not make enough progress soon.
With his three-year McLaren-Honda contract expiring, Spaniard Alonso has revealed that he is on the market for 2018 unless the struggling Anglo-Japanese collaboration can promise him a winning auto. “And not only to race, I want to win”.
By then, Alonso was being ferried back to the paddock on the back of a scooter, meekly waving to some of the local fans who came to give the Spaniard a much needed boost.
“We’ve brought quite a few upgrades to this race, but at the moment it’s different to judge any of them individually”. “I think that next week when we start the free practice with other people around I will build confidence and my understanding of what the auto needs”. After showing some progress previous year with its Honda engine, the team has taken a huge step back with neither Alonso nor new teammate Stoffel Vandoorne yet to score a point. It’s a long time since the Scuderia had such a good start to a season.