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Alonso prepared for "difficult weekend"

NEWS STORY
21/03/2017

Reflecting on last year's race, in which he was involved in a horrific accident following a clash with Esteban Gutierrez, that meant the Spaniard was unable to race in Bahrain two weeks later, one would imagine that there is a certain amount of unfinished business for the two time world champion down under.

A winner here once (2006), having seen his team make a significant improvement last year, Alonso might well have imagined coming here this year and finally battling for points again, possibly even a podium.

However, a dreadful pre-season test programme has seen the team slip backwards, and the Spaniard admits it isn't going to be the weekend he previously envisaged.

"After a difficult two weeks of testing we're prepared to face a difficult weekend in Melbourne," he said. "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."

While Honda insists it is close to resolving the issues that arose in Barcelona and is now looking to work on power, there are fears that - like testing - new issues will appear over the course of the Melbourne weekend and beyond.

Despite the negatives, including talk of his team seeking a new engine partner, teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, who got to make his F1 race debut as a result of Alonso's crash last year, is like an excited puppy as he anticipates his first full season.

"It's a great feeling knowing that I'm about to start my full first season in Formula 1," said the Belgian, "it's a dream I've been working towards for my entire racing career.

"I'm looking forward to stepping into the MCL32 cockpit on Friday morning and I feel totally ready for the challenge ahead.

"In terms of performance, I'm not setting myself any particular targets, other than to keep my head down, learn a lot from the team and from Fernando, and do my best.

"I know the guys and girls at McLaren and Honda very well, and I feel very much part of the family, so there's no sense of nervousness about starting my first full season as a Formula 1 driver. It's my first time in Australia so I'll be soaking up the atmosphere, enjoying the buzz of the first race of the season, and we'll see how the weekend unfolds from there."

Honda's Yusuke Hasegawa, while admitting that it will be a tough weekend, insists progress is being made.

"It won't be an easy weekend," he admits. "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.

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

"Our priority for the weekend will be to extract the most out of our power unit, while maintaining reliability."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 21/03/2017 17:52

"As a keen McLaren fan, and having noted the order in testing of the teams, I'm not sure I'll bother signing up for Sky Sport (New Zealand) before this weekend. Then again, they do have IRL, WRC, MotoGP, SBK, Aussie Supercars + Aussie GT...

I wonder if Pitpass.com readers should start a sweepstake on how many laps the McLaren's will last? Zero could be an option going by past issues!"

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2. Posted by koko, 21/03/2017 16:12

"@jackois - best comment I've read today! thank you!"

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3. Posted by jackois, 21/03/2017 8:27

"I'll bet that Mr Button is praying that Alonso doesn't walk out ..."

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