Alonso: Melbourne will be the low point


One of the teams almost guaranteed to be firmly in the spotlight this weekend is McLaren.

Following its divorce from Honda the Woking outfit has been making much of the fact that its new relationship with Renault marks the beginning of the comeback of the second most successful team in the sport's history.

However, pre-season testing did little to convince, for while the MCL33 has pace it suffered numerous technical issues, some more worrying than others. To make matters worse, now partnered with Toro Rosso, Honda is showing signs of serious progress made over the winter.

Relying on gimmicks like a return to the orange livery that adorned the cars during team founder Bruce McLaren's reign, the fact is that the Woking outfit needs success if it is to fill the vast bare spaces on the cars with sponsors logos. Furthermore, while giving Fernando Alonso free reign to contest the WEC and even use the F1 cars to market his leisurewear range - great move Flav - another "roller-coaster" season could finally see the Spaniard cry "enough".

Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, Alonso warned not to expect results from the beginning, the Spaniard suggesting that the MCL33 will be challenging for supremacy in the midfield by mid-season.

I understand we are not at the level of Mercedes or Ferrari or Red Bull now," he said, in a masterpiece of understatement. "But we should be there in a couple of races' time or in the second part of the championship, because we are McLaren, so we should be there."

"This weekend will be our lowest level," he admitted. "We will be the team that will progress most compared to other teams, just because the integration to a new power unit will require time.

"The chassis has been designed and the season programmed with many updates that will come very soon, in the first couple of races," he revealed.

"What we see here this weekend is going to be important, yes, but we will be better and better. I expect the second half of the season, for example, a very strong McLaren.

"Obviously it is an important season for us with many changes on the team, especially on the power-unit. And obviously it is time to get some results for the team after three difficult years.

"It is difficult to know where we are right now because winter testing is only testing and we need to discover things a little bit in the first couple of grands prix.

"I think we have a good baseline and a good car to work with," he insisted. "But expectations are always high because we are McLaren and we have to deliver better results than what we saw in the last years."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Melbourne, here.

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Published: 22/03/2018
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