Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Suzuka, 2015

Alonso admits frustration with Honda’s “GP2 engine”

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso admitted he felt embarrassed during the Japanese Grand Prix after being passed very easily by several of his rivals.

The McLaren driver blamed the lack of performance from his Honda power unit, branding it a “GP2 engine” on the radio during the race.

Alonso told reporters after the race there was “not much joy” for him in racing at the moment. “When you’re being overtaken like we are on the straight it’s very frustrating,” he said.

Also when you see the other guys in the corners maybe they have more difficulties with the car, they are out of the racing line, they are braking late, they are doing mistakes, and even with that they keep overtaking you in the middle of the straight, not even the braking point.

“So it’s frustrating and when we are in a group it’s even more. When we are alone, more or less, we enjoy driving, but when we are in a group it’s frustrating right now.”

“Days like today you feel embarrassed a little bit because it’s not possible that some of the guys overtake us like this,” he added. “It should be a little bit more competitive the package.”

However Alonso is keeping his faith in McLaren as the most likely potential rival to Mercedes.

“I think this is the only thing that will challenge Mercedes in the near future,” he said. “Right now is tough times because we don’t have the toys to fight with them but I think everyone is working very hard. This is a very positive thing, everyone is making sure that we know the problems, we go deep into the solutions that we will find for next year and we are working on that process.”

“But every Sunday when we are in a group we can’t hide this is frustrating.”

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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  • 75 comments on “Alonso admits frustration with Honda’s “GP2 engine””

    1. Will he quit? He should’ve stayed at Ferrari.

      1. That would be the case only if Ferrari produce a title winning car in the next two years. So far very little has changed in 2015 from 2010-13 in that Ferrari are good but not quite good enough and are relying on constant brilliance from their star driver to compete for wins. Vettel may be all smiles at the moment but 4 more years of being in a car that is not quite good enough and then maybe his patience will be tested as Alonso’s was.

        Of course Alonso is blindly willing McLaren-Honda to produce the goods next year. If not, then he won’t have anywhere to go and his age will eventually catch up with him if it hasn’t started to already, whereas the likes of Riccardio, Bottas, Max, Sainz are still young and full of potential, so Alonso will probably have to quit.

      2. Ferrari were as fed up with Alonso as he was with them.

        1. I beg to differ on that point, @safeuropeanhome. Initially Ferrari wanted him to stay, including James Allison. However, when it became apparent that they were not going to persuade Alonso, then, they turned on him. You know, nothing personal, it’s all business…

          I agree with @Broom. The resurgence of Ferrari is good for F1 and being a fan of the Scuderia Ferrari team, I can’t wait until the pendulum swings the other way, but it was the same story when Alonso was with them. Good, winning a few races here and there, but not good enough to win the championship.

    2. Embarrassing comment by him. You don’t finish 11th in an F1 race with a “gp2” engine. A real insult to the team and certainly I’m sure it brought a gasp from the ranks of Honda corporate guests on hand who will be wondering why they are paying a guy millions to slate them on live TV.

      1. At least he’s right that the Honda power unit is awful. Despite they were slightly faster than Renault at the speed traps, he was blitzed by almost everyone who was attacking him. He still trusts them though.

        1. they’re faster when battery is full for 1 lap. Race conditions renault is much better though.

      2. He isn’t slating them on public TV. He explicitly said that he believes in the team and that they, according to him, can take the fight to Mercedes.
        When the Engine is nowhere near where it should be do you expect him to sing praises @DaveW ?
        I am a McLaren fan through and through, I’m waiting for them to come good, have been for 16 years, and I believe in Fernando And Jenson.
        Ron? Not so much.

      3. @dmw
        Alonso’s GP2 remark was pretty unfair. GP2 engines are much more reliable, sound a lot better and are probably at least as powerful. But I guess he was just trying to motivate his team.

      4. @DaveW, my sentiments exactly!
        Afonso does not toe the company line. Disgraceful!

        1. This isn’t toeing the company line?

          However Alonso is keeping his faith in McLaren as the most likely potential rival to Mercedes.

          “I think this is the only thing that will challenge Mercedes in the near future,” he said.

          Or is he simply not allowed to criticise an engine that even a fruit fly can tell is useless?

      5. @DaveW
        BTW He made the statement on the TEAM RADIO. SkyF1 choose to share after they heard it first. What he is saying is Correct, right. Engine Program with new F1 rules is in trouble. The money spent needs to be shared by F1. F1 Penalties need to be removed!! At least until they all have the H/P issue’s fixed along with transmission issues. F! teams are losing sponsors and fan because of this fighting. I hate to say it but F1 needs to look at the Nascar engine program,took them many years to get it where it’s at now.

        1. That is completely incorrect Michael. The radio is available to FOM. They pick what messages to broadcast. The TV station have no influence on this at all.
          As for NASCAR, they have comparable issues with crowds declining and big teams with huge budgets taking all the prizes

          1. @michal2009b. Oh, and Alonso did sign a fixed contract for 3 years. Not options to stay or go

    3. We’ll see if he will be brave enough to leave this “embarassing car” with a “GP2 engine” and go race elsewhere.

    4. Such an outburst in Honda’s home GP and in front of all Honda management is very unprofessional from Alonso. While he is a good racer, among the best on track, but he himself chose the moneymaking McLaren / Honda contract after burning bridges in Ferrari.

      The comments were made in heat of the moment and most likely Alonso regrets the comments by now as they serve no purpose to him. By comparision, Jenson must be as disappointed, but at least he deals with the situation in a professional way.

      1. Agreed. Jenson’s the quiter one, but Jenson’s the loser, somehow.
        Poor choice of the race to brand them as GP2, Worse is that it was broadcasted.

        1. I’m sure Alonso intended his comments to shock Honda’s big brass, in the hope that Honda would force a rethink over the pace in the engine development programme. McLaren and their drivers claim “we’re sticking with Honda… it’s coming, it’s coming..” How about now Honda?

      2. At least, Alonso’s still fighting (though not too elegantly). Button seems to have given up.
        Alonso’s simply stating the facts – A turd will still be a turd, no matter how you look at it.
        Honda, time to wake up!

      3. I don’t think Alonso regrets it. He wanted to inflict pain and make it really hurt.
        All the PR talk afterwards are not the words the Honda people will still hear in their heads while they can’t sleep.
        It’s just his style, already when he drove for Renault.

      4. roshan fernandes
        27th September 2015, 9:38

        Honda deserve to get embarrassed in Japan.. If they had signed him for a year or if they have atleast added a clause in his contract to leave the team if they dont perform then he wouldnt have vented out his frustration like this.. well done alonso… fans are with you… a good lesson for all other teams as well who think money can buy anything and everything..

      5. Fans: “Drivers must be allowed to speak their minds!”
        Driver: *speaks his mind*
        Fans: “Drivers must stop moaning all the time!”

        Seriously, one thing I read more than anything else is about how the fans don’t want the drivers to be PR robots. Yet when one decides to tell it like it is, those same fans berate the guy for not being a PR robot.

        Am I the only one who sees the contradiction?

      6. Jenson said that he and Alonso are samurais but haven´t an armor and a sword to fight…

    5. Ahh…the real Alonso is starting to emerge. Public berating of Honda at their home track is going to be super productive.

      1. Is it any worse than Honda’s own mechanics telling Button to set fire to his car at the end of the 2008 season (that genuinely happened – in the Brazilian GP, they taped a lighter to the side of his cockpit with the message “Feel free to use this” and an arrow pointing to the car)?

      2. Actually, it may well prove to be the very motivation Honda needs right now.

        Sometimes, you just have to say ‘Your product’s bad, and you should feel bad’.

    6. Call me delusional, but I have hope that somehow Honda will completely revise their engine for 2016 and come up with a PU comparable to Mercedes and Ferrari.

      1. I hope so. And I’m a hardcore Ferrari fan

    7. Fernando want to prove that he is better than the gp2 champ Stoffel :p

      1. Well he must have been thinking about Stoffel while he was talking about GP2. Considering his preference of Button over Vandoorne, and the outcome of his outburst which is Ron Dennis publicly stating that Button will be racing for McLaren next year, maybe he had an ulterior motive. Maybe he was thinking about 2007.

    8. Where are the people claiming McLaren will get a podium this year?

      1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
        27th September 2015, 10:11

        I’ll admit I was one of them. @paeschli
        How wrong was I.

    9. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      27th September 2015, 10:22

      I’m not happy with those comments from Alonso. It doesn’t help the team to repeatedly slag off the engine. He damaged McLaren in 2007, he’s doing so again. I’ve cheered him on these last few years, but this isn’t acceptable; McLaren should ask themselves whether they really need Alonso driving for them.

      1. Actually no.
        In these current conditions, they could get along with any Hulkenberg.
        Alonso is just a publicity stunt.
        He’ll be useful to them in one or two years, maybe/hopefully.
        They could have saved the money of his salary and invested more in the engine.
        They didn’t even attract a sponsor!!! The liver is still empty, and it’ll be more so next year

    10. Totally unprofessional, like always. His true character revealed, he couldnt even fake his “happy” mood not even 3 months. 35 millon euros and u havent done sh^t in all season so..
      U got the checks in the bank and u are so unrpoffesional to critize Honda in his home and in front of all japan.

      The big question is:
      Is he trying to be fired and get in bank the next 2 years money in advance?

      1. That would be his greatest victory in his whole career

    11. Somewhat ironic that Alonso’s result in this race ties his 3rd best performance this season. 5th in Hungary, 10th in Monaco, and 11th in Bahrain and Japan. And now he has finally completed more Grands Prix this season than he has retired from.

    12. It is a complete disgrace that Alonso, one of the greatest drivers of his generation, who today fought tooth and nail for every position in every lap of the GP, is called ‘unprofessional’ by some wannabe F1 expert on a F1 internet forum. Clearly he was giving everything he’s got and still was easily being passed on the straight. Frustration simply boiled over. He has been quite restrained in his comments this year, it has to be said.
      Honda made a real mess of this engine, and unless they improve drastically next year, there is no point in Alonso racing in F1 anymore.
      The best outcome for F1 fans is for Mercedes get rid of Rosberg and put Alonso on the second Mercedes. Then the fans would be in for an epic battle of Senna-Prost proportions.

      1. Do you think the same way about Horner and co with the way they criticized Renault in public?

        1. @leyla Apples and oranges my friend

            1. It’s a bit of an unfair comparison: we’ve now asked drivers to not be PR robots and actually speak their minds. Team principals arguably have more of a responsibility to keep it in line. And based on the results of every race other than Japan, to compare even the Renault to the Honda engine is just insulting Enstone. Furthermore, as long as McLaren actually need Alonso they have to put up with at least some of these outbursts. When Horner and co. started slagging Renault, Renault quite reasonably said, “well, we don’t actually need you guys, so PEACE WE OUT YO” in Frenchish. McLaren is quite free to fire Alonso as Ferrari fired Alain Prost for negativity, just as Renault is free to walk away. Remember that they’re walking away from World Series, which very likely was decided around the time Red Bull started getting uppity. They should have taken that hint that motorsport wasn’t key anymore for Renault.

            2. @ David

              Sorry I don’t get difference. For my point of view obviously I put the same standard on anyone. If I don’t want a driver to be just a PR robot, equally I also don’t want a team principal to be just that. I like guys being open and outspoken no matter where or what. Of course that doesn’t mean that I agree automatically with them on the issue, but I am not criticizing them for speaking their mind.

              Also if Renault really did not have the focus on motorsport anymore, then first it explains their appalling performance this year and is a fine justification for criticising them publicly by RBR. I mean RBR have a contract with them, and if they don’t perform because they are not interested then…

              However I don’t know what really went on behind the closed doors, so I refrain from judging either RBR or Renault or Honda or Alonso. I just don’t know enough to judge them. That RBR speaks their mind publicly doesn’t make them wrong nor right automatically.

          1. “Apples and oranges my friend”

            it is apples and oranges – Honda is in their first year and it’s not unexpected they will be struggling.

            Renault, being in their second year, should not have gone backward – which is what they did, amazingly enough.

            People slag Vettel relentlessly for one poor year, but he’s back on form. Why should Renault be cut any slack for sticking their lump in reverse in year 2 of the new formula?

      2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

        “wannabe F1 expert on a F1 internet forum”

        Now that Ron Dennis made the same comment maybe you want to rethink that.

        1. Nowhere can I find Ron calling Alonso ‘unprofessional’. I dare you to find and post the quote where Ron has called Alonso ‘unprofessional’. Not what you think he meant, because that means nothing at all. The actual quote, word by word, where Ron has called Alonso ‘unprofessional’. I think you may want to rethink your post, don’t ask people to rethink anything if you are too lazy to properly read a half a page article. (I am assuming you can read if thats not the case please accept my apologies)

          1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

            Here you go: http://www.crash.net/f1/news/223549/1/dennis-rebukes-alonso-over-unprofessional-race-comments.html

            Another source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/13751414/fernando-alonso-radio-comments-lacked-professionalism-ron-dennis

            If you meant that he didn’t say “unprofessional” but “it doesn’t show the professionalism that I would like our drivers to show”, I rest my case.

            1. @afonic
              You can rest whatever case you have got. I asked you to provide a quote of Dennis calling Alonso unprofessional and I still haven’t got one.
              His alludes to the fact that he was disappointed about the comments but nowhere can you find Alonso and unprofessional on the same sentence. Do you know why?
              Because it was never said. Thats why.

            2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

              He clearly said that he expected Alonso to be more professional, meaning “We pay this guy millions of pounds each year and he can’t stop crying at our partner’s home race, embarassing them and us in an unprofessional way”.

              So yes, it was completely unprofessional of him, and yes, Ron Dennis said so. If you can’t understand that or you want to use the “where did he said it EXACTLY like this” defense, you’re probably a lawyer.

            3. Don’t worry Iosif. Someone that says Alonso/Ham is similar to Senna/Prost is not worth your time.
              You provided a quote that says what he asked for and he doesn’t want to acknowledge it. Ignore the thrash. Thanks for the links btw.

            4. We pay this guy millions of pounds each year and he can’t stop crying at our partner’s home race, embarassing them and us in an unprofessional way

              Your quote buddy, definitely not Ron Dennis’s. People tend to infer and put their own spin on quotes. Thats a natural response but one that is not sound or fair because you use your own bias to arrive at a conclusion. In fact this is a well known tabloid tactic in the UK.
              Ps. Funnily enough I am a lawyer.

              @kimifan77
              Wow, thats totally uncalled for. I made a perfectly fair point without resorting to calling people names. Since you felt the need to participate in the conversation, allow me point two things out:

              1. I never said

              Alonso/Ham is similar to Senna/Prost

              . You will find that I did say that with both driving a Mercedes we would be in for a fight of Senna/Prost proportions, in contrast to no fight at all, which is the case currently with Rosberg. Its the size of the fight that I am comparing, not actual drivers. Yet again, please read the quote…
              2. You called me thrash *sic*. I think you think meant trash, as in rubbish. If you are going to offend someone at least get it right. Otherwise you just come across as an inept, feckless sod.

              I am sure you are grateful I took 2 minutes of my life to take you to school. You are welcome :)

    13. Probably trying to hog the attention. Make sure they only talk is about him post-race or something.
      I was immediately reminded his berating and then praising talks about Ferrari in the past.

      After the race, Ron Dennis was so cornered that he had to announce Jenson Button as their driver for next season. That was awkward.

      By the way, thanks to Ericsson who got on his nerves, he managed to finish ahead of some faster cars. I heard Ericsson had fallen off the cliff and still managed to stay ahead of his competitors except for Perez and Kvyat.

    14. I can understand his frustration, he moved to McLaren on the promises Ron made, which turned out to be false. I can see Alonso moving to Renault, forcing McLaren to keep Jenson

    15. What a thing! Nowadays, in a world you always have to say polite and correct things in order to bother nobody… Because everybody feels offend by any tiny comment you do… Yes, in this environmet those are rude statements.

      But in the real world, in which you have to take responsabilities for your acts, where you have to compete against other people that could tear apart you, putting sponsors off and pushing your ass out of the F1 (McLaren situation is not the best and need a serious improve), those are proper comments.

      Honestly, Honda UP has been embarrassing from 6th race. Instead increase working and resources, Honda have been basically talking and criticizing McLaren (who has a pretty good chassis). So this guys needed a great kick in the ass long time ago. Fernando and Jenson have been too polite too much time. Sometimes a tap in the correct moment fixes more things that the self-satisfaction.

    16. Must have been the show up he received from Carlos Sainz in a Toro Rosso that got his juices flowing.

    17. No one has yet mentioned the cultural sensibilities at play here. Alonso has mentioned in the past that he admires the attitude of samurais so presumably he knows a little about the Japanese mentality and Japanese customs. Respect, and especially not being seen to lose face are of the utmost importance. I would expect Alonso to know that. You simply do not criticise the Japanese in public. In fact, the restraint with which he has commented all year long in the face of a terrible engine from Honda suggests that yes, he is very aware of that.

      With that in mind this was probably the worst thing he could have said, even if it was not said in the public domain. I guess from Ron Dennis’s comments, he is highly aware of that too from his dealings with Honda in the past. For the Honda bosses to hear that, at their home track of all places, well that could cause an irreparable rift in the relationship between them and Alonso.

      1. you are totally right.

        But just missing the key points by a whisker. This egoistic and proud characteristic of japs are also the direct cause of the situation Honda find themselves in today.

        The pride not to take reference and good ideas from competitions (think data from last year’s Merc V6 in McLaren) and further improve upon with their hardwork is not paying well isn’t it? Look at where they are now?

        I’m especially sad when Honda said they are not going to take shortcuts by hiring key engine personnels from rival teams to give themselves a jump. Sure they can take time to achieve success, but what about the drivers? Age is catching up on them!

      2. Though I’ve been an Alonso fan for some time now, I do think he sometimes forgets to think before he speaks. Calling his team geniuses in a sarcastic way at the 2013 Italian GP qualifying while driving for Ferrari probably damaged his relationship with Ferrari more than some of the complaints he aired in 2014. Some of the more memorable team radios have come from him, simply because he seems to shout at his team in the heat of the moment.

        Seeing him say that team radio should be private, simply because of those GP2 engine comments is one of those weird ‘anyone is to blame but me’ quirks he seems to have every once and again too. He might know a thing or two about Japanese culture, but Alonso is not one to fall on his sword for the emperor..

        1. He is very intense in the car isn’t he @npf1. He always has been, and he’s always been a bit of a loose cannon when he’s frustrated. I love it, personally, and I have no time for this precious ‘you can’t criticise MEEEE’ thing that pops up in some of these oriental cultures like Japan and China.

          Honda had the example of Ferrari’s too-small turbo and Mercedes’ essential PU-in-a-chassis dyno but they had to do it their way with the abstract everything-in-the-vee concept that is too small and can’t be cooled.

          So a bit of ninja sniping from Nando just makes me snigger, I have to admit. Honda have to find some humility and learn. I really hope they do though.

      3. I understand your point of view about the Japanese culture but many Japanese in the social media (I often frequent 2c bulletin board) is actually praising Alonso and many are feeling sorry for Alonso and Button. Some are saying what the hell is Honda doing to World Champions! or some even saying that Arai is a douche lair etc., and very few of them (myself included) are actually feeling bad about this case. I know that for Honda’s top executives are furious but this hit was necessary in order to improve.

        We sure understand that Mclaren-Honda are paying his salary but we also feel bad for him that he is put in a such a frustrating and humiliating situation on track (you can argue that you can’t be frustrated earning millions though lol). However, being competitive and actually enjoying what you do is priceless in my opinion.

        Alonso’s coment about the engine on the radio for sure is not a constructive feedback but I do not see it as destructive either. Japanese might not speak their mind in public to avoid creating conflict but when they know that something is wrong and someone stand up to shout it out they really appreciate the courage.

    18. I see there is now an article on this site with Alonso commenting that team radio should be private. Seems he does realise the potential magnitude of what he said with the Honda higher-ups.

    19. Honda had it coming afaic, with their nationalistic hubris.

      Tho Brindle was speculating Nando is trying to get himself sacked.

      1. In my opinion Honda isn’t ‘nationalistic’, considering the Japanese culture is vastly different than the British, French, German or Italian cultures. It is hard for Westerners to really fit in, both in daily life as well as in the working place. They might be a lot more reasonable about not getting engineers from other engine manufacturers than meets the eye. It’s more a case of hubris about their way of working than about their nationality, imo.

    20. It’s funny how people say he shouldn’t have said these things on Honda’s home circuit.

      Would it make any difference? We don’t need him to bash the engine to see it’s much weaker than the others. That their tops speeds are ridiculous and they aren’t even close to be competitive on wheel-to-wheel racing. He was 11th because he maximized his chances by not making mistakes or bad strategy.

      How many overtakes did he or Button made this year? How many times they were overtaken?

      Honda’s pitiful PU is no secret. Maybe this was just the slap they’re needing to try and get better.

    21. Reading this after 3 years. While Honda was bad for sure, McLaren weren’t all perfect either. Their chassis has been draggy throughout these 3 years.

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