Alonso: We have the car 100%


Describing pre-season testing as a "roller-coaster", it's fair to say that for Fernando Alonso there was also more than a touch of deja vu as numerous technical issues - not to mention the weather - left him and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne kicking their heels for much longer than they would have wished.

Meanwhile, the main source of their troubles in recent seasons - the Honda power unit - was breathing new life into Toro Rosso, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley setting competitive times as well as impressive mileage.

While Eric Boullier claims the numerous technical issues, including overheating, a sub-standard battery and errant wheelnut have been "addressed", Alonso is a little more bullish, insisting the car is 100% ready for the season opener.

"I think we should be optimistic," he told Reuters. "We had some reliability issues in testing but all of them are fixed now and the team did an amazing job in the past two or three weeks to have the car 100 percent for Australia.

"I think being in the points, being close to the top five, I think that will be the best thing we can do to start the season," he continued. "We need a good result to motivate the team and to keep working for the rest of the season."

Minded that his last podium finish was Hungary in 2014, thereby bringing him up to a career total of 97, when asked if this season might witness him reaching the magical 100, he replied: "I think so. I think top four is definitely a target for us and we know that Mercedes is a little bit ahead of everyone and is dominating the sport for the last four years.

"They're the big favourites again to start the new season. But then we have Red Bull, we have Ferrari and definitely McLaren has to the next team on that order."

As in the era of Ferrari domination of the late 90s and early 2000s, many believe that while Mercedes domination is damaging the sport it is up to rival teams to raise their game.

"It's always important to have some competition in any sport," admits the Spaniard. "I think competition and close fights will attract more people and will make the championship more interesting but I don't think that's any problem with Mercedes' dominance. They did a better job than the others in the last couple of years because they deserve it.

"It's up to us to improve and to raise our game and hopefully beat them very soon. And McLaren is probably one of the teams that can do that in the future, in the near future. Hopefully that near future is soon and even this year."

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Published: 21/03/2018
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