Alonso: McLaren lacking power and reliability from Honda

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Fernando Alonso says the Honda power unit is McLaren’s one and only problem with its car.

“We have only one problem, that is the power unit,” said Alonso. “There is no reliability and there is no power.”

“I think we are 30kph down in the straight, every straight. When you are 30kph down in every straight it’s difficult also to have a feeling on the car. Everything feels good but when you arrive to normal speed you don’t know what is going to happen.”

Testing day six in pictures
Alonso said the team is in a similar situation to where it was 12 months ago. “Probably this year it’s a little bit more frustrating because the change of regulations and things like that, you have higher hopes. You think that you can close the gap over the winter so definitely we need to improve and we must improve. The situation is far from ideal.”

“We are not matching our expectations and we are not as fast as we want to be in this winter testing,” he continued. “On the other hand it’s only winter testing.”

“I remember 2014, Red Bull were doing like seven laps in winter testing and won two or three grands prix that year. So let’s say that the season is long enough that you can have time to react.

“But right now there is no secret. We cannot pretend that we are happy and everything is going OK. We are not completing our programme, we are not doing the laps we plan every morning. We are missing some information.”

“With the lack of laps there are always some items that they go through to the next day. The next day we cannot complete the programme, then go to the next day. And now there are only two days left, one for each driver. So definitely a little bit behind schedule in terms of reliability and in terms of performance. But this is winter testing and it’s what it’s all about.”

Asked whether he had been able to tackle the Circuit de Catalunya’s turn three without lifting, Alonso replied: “For us not only turn three.”

“For us maybe all the corners are flat.”

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

88 comments on “Alonso: McLaren lacking power and reliability from Honda”

  1. At what point does Alonso walk out? What are the odds do you think?

    1. He knows if he walks out they’ll come good. What a dilemma.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        9th March 2017, 6:26

        Two soundbites from FA on Wednesday:
        – McLaren-Honda not fast enough;
        – Not ready to quit.
        He cannot be any clearer to Mercedes.

    2. Graham (@guitargraham)
      8th March 2017, 19:58

      i would say announcement at spanish gp, last race monaco two weeks later

      1. He’ll never abandon the team, he earns too much money and dont have the honour to leave the team.
        He’ll renew soon, he’s just putting more pressure to earn more money in contract renewal.

        1. Yeah right. The guy has enough money. Plus he’s also lying on the Chassis, he’s literally on the verge of imploding.

          1. Why is he lying? Because you have driven that car? Please stop with this unfounded McLaren hate.

  2. What about the chassis though?

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      8th March 2017, 19:18

      They don’t know yet, that’s the point because they’re so down on power.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        9th March 2017, 6:29

        But looking at it positively: “For (McLaren) all the corners are flat (out).”

        1. Georgeliverpool
          9th March 2017, 7:13

          I think this was a bit ironic,cause they are down on power.They will need all the power to go through the turns

    2. @hugh11 Alonso has commented elsewhere that some journalist noted the McLaren looks a handful in the corners and therefore describe the chassis as unbalanced and not well designed. Alonso responded to that by saying the Honda engine, which also contains an electric engine, has a drive-ability issue in the way that when he throttles in the corner the electrical engine gives a sudden shunt of power and a tad later the ICE kicks in as well giving it another shunt, which makes the whole feel unpredictable. And make the chassis look worse than it is, according to him.

      Think about Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2015, they also had a drive-ability issue with the Renault engine back then, I think this is comparable.

        1. @keithcollantine Ah yes, it was Boullier, not Alonso. My bad. I was confused by the wording of the article on another website, for which the content was slightly different than over here. I should’ve just sticked to F1Fanatic. ;)

      1. And while we’re Comparing note how they Performed Way better than the so called best chassis on the grid mclaren. Don’t Need no rocket science to See mclaren are building crap chassis for years.

  3. Estaban de los Casas
    8th March 2017, 18:02

    Should have looked into Mercedes when the opportunity was there. This then is the last year we see Alonso in a Grand Prix car. How stupid it was for him to not have jumped ship while he and Vettle were the first and most obvious drivers Mercedes showed interest in.

    1. I doubt that jumping was an option, given his contract.

      1. @jmc200 Exactly. Toto Wolff admitted Mercedes spoke to almost all drivers from other teams, but most of them had a contract and they didn’t want to breach it. Better yet: he specifically commented that this was the primary reason why there were no negotiations with Alonso (and I believe Ricciardo, not sure).

      2. He also Had a Contract at “i’ll end my Career at” Ferrari, as had the Guy he replaced there before him, as had rosberg, ….. contracts in f1 don’t mean dinodroppings

        1. Especially these top drivers, I believe that they usually have a performance clause which says that they can leave the team if they don’t get proper equipment.

        2. You are naive if you think contracts are meaningless in F1. The problem is that you misinterpret what a contract entails. Part of the terms of a contract is to provide an avenue should the parties decide to part ways. Alonso cannot simply walk out and drive for Mercedes. He will be in breach.

    2. We’ve been hearing this blatant over simplification since rosberg retired…
      Why stop now?

    3. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      8th March 2017, 19:19

      I think we could end up with a situation where he couldn’t join Mercedes because of his contract with Honda but yet he might walk away from them very soon anyway.

    4. They would be doing better even with last year’s Merc engine. Great racing name going through gut-busting tough times.

  4. Ouch! That’s wiii sting Honda, and rightly so.

    1. Sorry, grammer fail.
      It should of been;
      Ouch! That’s going to sting Honda, and rightly so.

      1. Grammar fail:

        “Should HAVE been”


        1. OK. I will bow my head in shame. ;-)

    2. I thought it was Scottish.

    3. @ijw1 @xtwl a wee sting, perfect Scottish

  5. “For us maybe all the corners are flat.”

    Ouch. Honda are going to need something stronger than burn cream, that’s for sure. The guy is pretty irked. It’s a real pity to see the guy floundering, through no fault of his own.

    1. Lol thats the comment of the test days for sure! All, ALL is flat, Gp2 engine Gp2 jajajajaja

    2. Nah thats became of the bestofthegrid.jpg chassis of course. Also dude’ s a Samurai, he always flat.

  6. Fantastic car! Can do all the corners flat out!

    1. lmao – loved that line!

    2. The saddest thing is, the unpredictability of the power unit actually prevents that (apparently)

  7. No excuses now for Honda. This was the year they should have built a competitive engine.

    Looks like this relationship is over.

    1. Which relationship were you talking about?
      Honda-Mclaren or Alonso-Mclaren?

      1. McLaren, one would presume

  8. Fernando should retire, no point risking his life for such incompetence.

  9. Funnily enough i got into f1 in 07 i was 16 and of course being patriotic i supported Hamilton still do loved Hamiltons stroke of luck going to Merc, i still feel Alo has been his own worst enemy. You cannot tell me Dennis made Hamilton fast etc it was Hamilton i will never forget Aus qualifying his first ever race lucking like could outqualify a 2xWC in the end he did’nt with more fuel onboard. I just hope we see Alo win another WC it really is horrible seeing him on 2 ttiles none since Vet and Ham arrived. He also deserves blame tho people keep saying Mclaren favoured Alo og watch Monaco or go watch USA GP when Alo was weaving down the the straight towards the pitwall tell Mclaren to swap the positions, alot of this is his own fault.

    It will eat him up if Vet suddenly gets the fastest car this year. Vettel as never known struggle since being WC. Yet he moans all the time. Hamilton got his bit of luck(lets be honest 1 WC would been a joke for his claiber of driver) and Alo has just been unlucky. If Vet beat Ric he would never have left he left a loser from redbull unlike Hamilton who stayed in 12 to beat JB.

  10. He should have stayed at ferrari i do not care what anyone says about Hamilton leaving Mclaren, in 14 Mclaren were looking terrible yet he left. He will regret this if Vet wins WC i just hope Ferrari are not quickets. Will be a joke seeing Vet as 5xWC vs the caliber of driver he has had in other garage

    1. He couldn’t, he got fired.

      1. I searched the web high and low and it’s obvious Alonso left Ferrari.
        You must have read some fake news?
        Please provide sources so I know not to take them seriously in the future.

  11. I am almost embarrassed to drive around my Honda civic :(

    1. @redbullf1 I understand, I was too last year in my F12…

      1. @xtwl

        You will feel proud this year, Go Vettel !

    2. I was thinking about a V6 Accord Coupe 6 Speed, this test session made me change my mind. Lol

      1. Go ahead but make sure to keep a spare engine in the trunk !

        1. Jajajajajaja

    3. They should use the v6 from my Odyssey, at least it’s reliable.

      Sadly, Honda’s hybrids have never been the best. Almost lame compared to Toyota. Pity they didn’t re-join F1.

    4. Would putting a “Mobil” sticker on your car help?

  12. With the McLaren road car brand well established and their technology business going from strength to strength, how long will McLaren stay in F1?

    With Honda and Renault possibly not supplying engines, can F1 survive in its current format with just two engine suppliers?

    1. Renault just came back, i don’t see them leaving.
      Honda will partner someone else i believe.
      And all the other Mclaren projects only exists today because of the F1 team.
      So, i don’t see many changes. But i might very much wrong.

    2. pastaman (@)
      8th March 2017, 18:47

      Why would Renault not supply power units?

      1. Same reason Honda might not. Not competitive with Mercedes or Ferrari and no chance/money/ability to catch up.

        If the value of the investment by Honda or Renault turns negative (in that they are noncompetitive) and starts to be reflected in car sales, the bean counters will pull the plug.

        As for McLaren pulling to plug. Do people buy their road cars because their stellar F1 performance? No. If McLaren feel that their lack of F1 performance negatively effects sales of their road cars, will they pull the plug on F1? Possibly.

        Cam McLaren utilise their manufacturing and become a Dallara type operation where they build a screed of cars for IndyCars and multitudes of lesser formula cars by closing down the F1 involvement. Possibly.

        With new management in charge who knows what direction McLaren will travel.

        1. Gerrit, I think that you overestimate McLaren’s in-house production capacities by a pretty substantial margin.

          McLaren can’t utilise their manufacturing base to produce a wide range of different chassis for other series because McLaren currently doesn’t produce a single chassis in house. They subcontract all of the chassis production work out to Carbo Tech, an Austrian carbon fibre specialist (they have only just begun to create a new chassis production facility in Sheffield, but that is not due to come into operation until 2020).

          Similarly, the McLaren M838T is a McLaren unit in name only – McLaren bought the intellectual property rights from Nissan for the VRH35L series engine and then handed that over to the mechanical engineering firm Ricardo, who then developed it into the M838T engine. Meanwhile, the transmissions come from the Italian company Graziano Oerlikon (quite a few manufacturers use them in fact) – in reality, McLaren Automotive only manufacture a small proportion of the components in house, so it doesn’t seem feasible to me that they could then suddenly start branching out into manufacturing components for a whole host of other series.

          1. I hear what you are saying and appreciate that McLaren cant turn around as quick as I would imagine.

            However around the board table there might well be discussions on how to spend the current F1 budget on other projects.

  13. Asked whether he had been able to tackle … turn three without lifting, Alonso replied: … “For us maybe all the corners are flat.”

    With a burn like that, Honda needn’t invest in TJI.

  14. Robert McKay
    8th March 2017, 18:55

    Sounds like Honda have somehow managed to swap the GP2 engine for a GP3 engine.

  15. Alonso is 36 this year. Not getting any younger and stuck with a project that seems- at best, medium to long term. Even if he walks this year which top team will want to employ a 37 year old next year who has been riding on his reputation for a while (although through no fault of his own with McHonda and an underperforming Scuderia)? Some might mention Merc but Hamilton is still younger than Alonso and they have a rising young star in Bottas. I don’t see them wanting to break that partnership up just to accommodate Alonso. Ferrari… Bridges have been burnt. Red Bull… No chance with Verstappen and RIC, never mind promising Sainz in the pipeline. I just don’t see where Alonso can go at this stage in his career with so much talent around. In my opinion- the end of the road is in sight for Fernando.

    1. Replacing Massa at Williams?

  16. I realistically see McLaren and Honda splitting at the end of the season, but the problem then is then there would only be 3 engine manufacturers and I don’t see McLaren having Mercedes engines in the back again. Maybe McLaren should be developing their own engines.

    1. Maybe Toyota would be interested in supplying them with an engine. They make a 2.4 litre hybrid engine for the some other racing series, it is used in their TS050 car, so Toyota would need to be willing to convert the engine to a 1.6 litre engine.
      To be fair, this is a 2016 engine, and we can’t be sure how far behind or ahead it is compared to the Honda 2017 engine.

      1. I’d love to see more manufacturers working solely on engines than manufacturer teams as a whole, unfortunately we have always been stuck in this homologated (can’t find the spelling) engine and chassis formula. Toyota or BMW return would be great in a Williams-Toyota historical kind of way, shame VW shot themselves in the foot with emissionsgate, can’t help feeling they would have been right up there,

  17. very good comment

  18. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    8th March 2017, 20:11

    Is there any major difference between TAG engines (Ilmor is part of that spin-off I think) and Renault? Can TAG supply McLaren without the necessity to be so involved with Renault? That and the rule to supply a maximum of 4 teams… I wonder if TAG can supply a couple of teams besides the ones officially labeled as Renault.
    Because it seems to me that this McLaren Honda marriage is already divorced.

    1. @omarr-pepper, it’s a difference in name only (I think that there is a slight difference in the software implemented in the ECU, but I don’t think that there are any real differences in the hardware between the works Renault team and the TAG-Heuer branded engines Red Bull use).

    2. Tag don’t supply anything. They pay redbull to sponsor the engine.

    3. Don’t confuse TAG (Engineering company?) with TAG-Heuer (Watch company). They both use to be part of the same group, but are not separate from each other.
      Redbull have simply branded the Renault engine as a TAG-Heuer engine, that’s all.

  19. Guys (and girls) please spare a thought for all the workforce at McLaren F1. Can you imagine what it’s like for them? They’re a passionate lot who eat sleep and dream McLaren. Alfonso is fine – he’s got a few million reasons to stay on side but for the ordinary staff it’s not that easy to face this news. I’m in the pub right now raising my glass to the ordinary guy – the one that perhaps feels this bad news more keenly than anyone else! Cheers guys, keep the faith..

  20. Oh dear. Oh dear.

    It seems that the engine is always going to be a year behind, no matter how many steps forward they take.

    McLaren Automotive recently signed, if I remember correctly, a deal with BMW. I know the two companies (Automotive and F1) have now got little to do with each other, but is there any potential for BMW to come in now? Or would that just be starting from square one again?

  21. Well done Alonso. Everyone else is saying and thinking the same thing, so why not answer questions honestly? It’s what Senna would have done…

    1. I agree – those who bash ALO for his statements are either anti – ALO or delusional.
      He has behaved admirably since joining McLaren, especially considering he is one of the all time greats. I can name others who would have been a lot harder on McHonda.
      Alonso isn’t the problem – Honda is.

  22. “We can do all corners flat out……slowly……until the engine fails.”
    Pity.Wasted talent.

  23. I’m really sad. While I didn’t expect McLaren to even podium this season, I did expect them to break well into the midfield and start regularly qualifying for Q3. I understand why they went with Honda. It is becoming increasingly difficult to win a championship without the full backing of a manufacturer but as the years pass it looks less and less likely that Honda has the ability to give McLaren an engine that can be even mildly competitive. The recent Renault’s may have been slow, but at least they were pretty reliable and they provided consistent power. This new Honda sounds like a real dog and I fear that McLaren is going to have another long and hard season. I really feel for Alonso. He deserves another chance at a Championship.

    1. I think Red Bull’s performance this season will show people whether being a customer team is really a big disadvantage. The Red Bull team are a smart bunch of people, and surely there has to be a reason why they haven’t gone and found another engine manufacturer that makes them a complete works team. Maybe they figured out that it is possible to win championships with a customer engine?

      If Red Bull win the WDC or WCC this year, it will give Mclaren the confidence to dump Honda and secure a Mercedes power unit for the next season. If Red Bull can do it with a Renault power unit, Mclaren should have the confidence of doing the same with a Mercedes power unit.

      Manor has left the grid, and I’m sure Mercedes has the capability of supplying one more team. Mclaren needs to have the talent and confidence to make a better chassis than Mercedes though… which seems like a more realistic target than hoping Honda will eventually make an ‘F1 worthy’ power unit.

  24. God I feel bad for the man, he’s just trapped in his own burning

  25. The PU is as bad as their livery…. please fix both in time for Melbourne

    1. After all this time the livery is still on your ‘to fix’ agenda?

  26. Probably the biggest waste of a talent F1 has ever seen.
    He is running out of time and should be 5 titles down the road by now.

  27. I know that he’s frustrated and probably deserves to be, but this is all very ungrateful. Honda are purportedly paying the lion’s share of his salary and all they get is this. Embarrassing.

  28. Wow. That dude, he not happy. I’ve been watching F1 for what’s getting to be a long time and off the top of my head I don’t think I remember any driver ever lambaste his car that badly. Ouch.

Comments are closed.