Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2017

“We are last”: Alonso says McLaren are F1’s slowest team

2017 Australian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says McLaren are Formula One’s slowest team in normal conditions despite running inside the points places for much of the Australian Grand Prix.

Alonso slipped out of the points when Esteban Ocon took advantage of a problems with Alonso’s MCL32 to overtake him.

2017 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“We had suspension failure at the end, is what stopped us finishing the race,” Alonso confirmed.

He said he had been driving strongly up until that point.

“It was feeling good, I think I was driving one of my best races so far,” he said. “We were surprisingly in the points all the race long.”

“Also we had to do a huge fuel-saving that was hurting us a lot but we were able to keep the position so as I said it’s a surprise to be so up but at the end we didn’t finish and definitely we need to be more competitive very soon.”

Alonso stressed the team’s showing in Australia exaggerated how quick they are.

“I think we are last,” he said. “That’s the performance we are now.”

“We were tenth because the qualifying lap yesterday was extremely good. At the start I was lucky to gain one position and Grosjean retirement gave us the second one.”

“So I think in normal conditions on a normal circuit we should be last and before-last.”

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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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82 comments on ““We are last”: Alonso says McLaren are F1’s slowest team”

  1. I find it insulting when Alonso compared Honda’s engine with a GP2 engine, that is totally uncalled for. GP2 engines are very reliable and almost never break down.

    1. As an Italian Ferrari fan…. it is wonderful to see Wokings pain.

      Long may it continue 😅

      1. For everyone, including you although you might not want to see it, it is better to have a historically great team joining the sharp end of the grid sooner than later. In general every great sports team has great competition, otherwise what’s the point?

        1. Well Mr. Dennis said once that he doesn’t mind if all the teams go broke and his team wins the title. So for any fan, no matter the team… what Mr. Dennis said has nothing to do with competing. Also any McLaren fan would want to see every race both Ferrari cars in smoke. I don’t really think there’s any McLaren fan that’s happy when a Ferrari driver wins a race or it’s on the podium.

      2. Typical Ferrari fan. Enjoy your lead while it lasts…

        1. @ultimateuzair McLaren and Ferrari fans are the same. The only difference is that generally McLaren fans are British.

    2. Takeitlightly
      26th March 2017, 13:09

      Fair play to Honda, it’s not Honda fault, last time I check Honda only provides Engine. This time it’s Mclaren’s fault.

      It was strange that before he was passed, Ocon got close in 2 corners very quickly which maybe because of the suspension failing.

      Slow? Yes… but without that suspension failure both cars would have finished with or without points.

      So this race when everyone thought Mclaren won’t even finish, they actuallly finsihed.

      1. Honestly both failed. Both drivers experienced a loss of power and both had to massively save the fuel. As for McLaren Alonso’s suspension broke and Vandoorne’s dash was off he lost 18 seconds in the pits while rebooting the car. So far McLaren-Honda has been a failure on either side for three years. I predicted a double DNF it seems I was wrong but not by far …

  2. They are probably ahead of Sauber but that’s about it.

  3. That is a very humbling remark on his behalf. Especially since he has been trying to stay positve throughout testing. This is such a declaration.

    1. I’m certain humbling is not the right word – Alonso has never shown any sign of being humble. As usual Alonso is boasting about how great he is by putting down the performance of his car (they were only doing so well because of his great qualifying performance, the car was in a place it shouldn’t have been etc). The reality is that the car finished exactly where we all predicted (i.e. before the chequered flag) and in reality both the car’s performance and reliability exceeded expectations.

  4. Usual Fernando then. Car is horrible and he is the superstar! He did that with Ferrari in the final years and now at Mclaren.

    1. It’s not like he’s wrong. This McLaren-Honda is indistinguishable from the Arrows-Cosworth of 2002, in terms of both livery and performance.

      1. Even though he is not wrong, it doesn’t help the morale of the team (both Mclaren and Honda). Where is the ‘win together, lose together’ mentality.
        It is this reason why no front-running team wanted him at the end of 2014 or at the end of 2007 (and probably at the end of 2017 as well).

        1. Moral keeps are loooong gone. What Honda needs is proper kick to their behind. It is disgrace that they had all the time in the world with new regs to fix things up and they are worse now then at start of 2016.

        2. Didn’t exactly hurt Redbull when they were very outspoken about Renault and their failings did it? In fact it had the opposite effect and it forced Renault to get their act together.

          1. It’s different when an organization does that against another organization vs when a person does that against an organization.

            Renault chose to respond on-track to Red Bull’s complaints because, frankly, there was no other way out. They couldn’t choose to not supply Red Bull. There are only 9 other teams and not many better than Red Bull currently or in the future.
            Honda-Mclaren may just decide to boot Alonso out. There are 19 other drivers (plus more in junior series) and Alonso with his increasing age is not going to be better than all of them in the future.

          2. It did hurt Red Bull, in the end they had to beg and pull strings to even have an engine in the car and their junior team ended up having to sign a contract for a year old engine. Also Red Bull moved from works team to customer team (albeit possibly not costing them much more due to the TAG sponsorship) and Renault has decided to set up its own works entry again (who knows if that would have happened otherwise and what the long term cost to Red Bull will be as the focus moves to the Renault works effort).

        3. ” it doesn’t help the morale of the team”
          Oh stop. Those are grown up men! They don’t need any childish sugar-coating of the reality. They themselves can see – can’t they? – the car they have built is crap. If anything, they should feel ashamed of their effort. Deliviring such a failure to a multiple world champion? Bite your teeth and work harder!

        4. Sorry but if you’re talking ‘moral of the team’ they loved him at Ferrari. There are videos doing the rounds of behind the scenes. at least watch these if you’re going to be the armchair judge of sporting characters

        5. McLaren is a “purebred” team and it’s normal for Alonso to have wished for more after two years. As it turned out, these weren’t preparation years, just ghastly years. Honda needs a wake-up call and, TBPH, Alonso’s voice is louder than McLaren’s voice! So maybe this will be good for the team, on the long run.
          I bet almost anyone on this site (or any other motor-sport related site) is much more likely to read an opinion stated by Alonso than by Boullier.
          Is Alonso a bad guy? Is his team spirit “thin”? We don’t know, you can’t judge the guy. TBF, he’s just stating the obvious. About being unlucky, about being hopeful for two whole years and… then nothing.

        6. “Where is the win together, lose together mentality”

          Much like the winning together part, it doesn’t exist

          1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
            27th March 2017, 16:56

            COTD.

        7. what the heck are you talking about, it’s all honda’s fault, 3 years they couldn;t get it together, mind me all the rubbish double defuser stuff everyone keeps hiding behind, honda should have got things right from last year, and if they are not ready to give a competitive power unit to f1 then better pack up and head back to tokyo.

        8. He has been as upbeat and positive as one could be after 3 seasons in embarrassingly bad cars and not much better at Ferrari.

          This is a waste of one of the all-time F1 greats with incompetent management from Honda’s standpoint; they have the engineering know-how.

          He’ll leave the team before the year’s end and we have Zac Brown to blame for blocking him from a Mercedes ride alongside Hamilton. The last thing McLaren needs right now is a $30m+ superstar drive that gives them .2-.5 tenths of a second a lap. That money is better spent elsewhere and shame on the racers in them for not setting him free. This Honda experience is beyond a disaster.

          Button was much, much worse with demoralizing commentary on the team.

          1. Are you serious, “not much better at Ferrari”? 44 podiums and 2 title challenges is “not much better” according to you? @hendy

    2. “Car is horrible and he is the superstar! ”

      You are bloody right mate. Just look at where his teamate has been all weekend. Sure, Stoff is a rookie, but he was nowhere close.

      Alonso is a superstar, I think its a known fact. He can be quite cheeky with his veiled stabs at times, but this was a direct honest answer. The car is crap, and he’s probably right that on pure pace, they may be last.

      He maximised his performance, and he manages to do this more often that not. I dont know why people keep knocking him when his performances over the years have shown just how good he is. Is he a d$%k? Sure, isnt every other driver apart from Ricciardo and Grosjean?

      1. Stoff nowhere close? Better look first to the lap times and sector times….

        1. Results are what matters – that’s why Alonso is considered the best. Jensen stated as much.

          1. Well in that case Vandoorne absolutely smashed Alonso. Finished 5 laps ahead!

          2. @KevinY
            I’ll go out on a limb and conclude he means when ALO finishes races which is not too often with McHonda.

      2. While I believe Fernando is a brilliant driver, whose greatest strength lies in his ability to adapt to any situation and extract the (near) maximum from the car he is driving, he may have been overselling himself just a little too hard this time around.

        I have no doubt the Honda engine (primarily) at the back of the MCL32 is a disaster, but as a package I think the MCL32 is not the worse (but no doubt dragged down by the PU). I’d attribute today’s performance probably at “~60% Alonso / ~40% MCL32”, rather than the “~90% Alonso / ~10% MCL32” the man himself is trying to sell.

        But yes, given Vandoorne is a highly rated driver, the gap in performance between himself and the 2x WDC (new aero bits or not) this weekend at least, highlights how exceptional Fernando’s talent truly is.

        PS: If you look back around 2005 – 2008, you’d find similar statements from Jenson Button criticizing Honda for constantly falling short. Only back then, Jenson was probably a bit too gentlemanly; whereas today Alonso doesn’t seem to care how much he embarrasses and ruins Honda until they get the job right.

        1. @rafael-o You are too kind with McLaren’s responsibility: a broken suspension and a broken dash. The car’s reliability has been awful this weekend and both engine and car failed. loss of power, reboots, dashes, suspension,… This is far too much problems for such an enormous budget. Very disappointing!

      3. Vandoorne finished the race, Alonso didn’t, therefore Vandoorne finished ahead of Alonso.

      4. @jaymenon10 Vandoorne had to “try and set a lap” (exact words used by his race engineer) in qualifying and had only one opportunity, he was driving a Barcelona-spec McLaren when Alonso had upgrades, his dash then failed so he had to drive blind, then he had a power cycle during pit stop.

        I will not accept that what we saw this weekend is representative of how the both of them compare.

    3. Alonso is capable of podiums and another year as a backmarker does not make sense anymore.

      1. Several drivers on the grid are capable of podiums but won’t get any this year because they are not in the right car. The difference – they’ve never had the opportunity to choose their team, Alonso’s made some bad decisions through the years (some only obvious with hindsight) but at the end of the day he signed for McLaren so should get on with making he most of it and doing what he can rather than talking his own team down.

        1. Martin Whitmarsh started the process in getting Alonso back and Ron Dennis sold Alonso his and Honda’s ‘size zero’ concept. All 3 are now gone!

        2. Exactly right. As a professional driver having a vehicle that doesn’t have the performance you want is part and parcel of the job, and others having the expectation you will perform the job as though the vehicle is the one you want is as well.

  5. Must have been a hard day for Alonso watching Seb taking the win with Ferrari. Even if it was just a one-off and Ferrari’s performance decreases as the season progresses, the victory feeling and the possibility of winning Championships are what drivers yearn for. I don’t believe in Alonso’s claim that no position but the first one matters, surely being in second chasing the first car down has to be more enjoyable than battling for a single point at the end of the grid.

  6. He is amazing, they are last, he puts them in a great place in qualy, great lap. Drags in up to ten, thanks to one of his best races so far, with remember the worst car in the grid, WHILE, saving fuel.

    What dude, congrats Fernando, keep up, send them all home, build a car in a shed mate, it’s all you either way, nobody cares

  7. If Fernando bungs him a few mill, Kimi dyes his hair black and grows a beard, and Fernando bleaches his hair, shaves his beard and starts talking in a monotone then Ferrari could win the WCC…

  8. Starting to get tired of Alonso’s narcissism. He really thinks he drove the worst car in the field in the points for the majority of the race? Bet the Sauber or Renault drivers atm would beg to differ.

    1. Fernando Alonso is a double WORLD CHAMPION. There’s something like the driver contributing to the pace of the car as well. If Fernando Alonso is barely in points at his best effort, the car is obviously terrible.

      1. @damon

        You can’t be serious. You actually believe Alonso is capable of making up seconds in car pace? Because in that case I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

        McLaren is NOT the slowest team, the first race proved this isn’t true. Unreliable, oh definitely, but not the slowest.

        1. The only team that qualified both cars behind Alonso were Sauber. Both Pérez and Hülkenberg (who were right ahead of Alonso) didn’t improve their Q1 times in Q2, which should have put them at least 2 tenths up on Alonso.

          During the race, Alonso got into the points because Ricciardo was out, Grosjean was out, and he overtook Hülkenberg during the first lap. If there’s anything that’s been proven during his years in F1, is that Alonso is highly oportunistic during the first lap. Pace wise he wasn’t faster, before he was overtaken Ocon and Hülkenberg had been right at his tail for quite a few laps. It’s worth noting that Hülkenberg pitted twice.

          Williams, Toro Rosso, Force India and Renault are quite clearly faster. Now, for Sauber. In Q1, Giovanazzi was 6 tenths slower than Alonso. That’s a complete rookie, who only had 1 pre-season test, and missed FP1 and FP2. Ericsson was 4 tenths slower than Alonso. I think it’s likely Ericsson would be at least 4 tenths slower than Alonso in equal cars. So there’s a possibility that Sauber is actually faster than McLaren.

      2. Yeah Alonso always brings in 3 tenths to any car, only if the Ferrari mechanics are ready to sell team secrets.

    2. He can boast all he wants as long as he backs it up – and he does!

  9. It sounds bad when you read it. However these comments are usually made when reporters ask the drivers questions about their performance. It is usually a simple response, he’s not going out of his way to make a statement. Same goes for other drivers.

    1. YES!
      This is a very important point If you see a driver (or anybody in the media) telling the same thing over an over again in various interviews, it is NOT because they want to talk about it, it is because they are being asked the same old questions over and over again.

      1. Exactly and then he moves on to the next reporter and has to answer the same silly questions all over again, probably in 3 different languages too.
        People should remember these drivers don’t call their own press conferences and most consider this the worst part of the job and would rather go home and say nothing!

        I bet the stuff they tell interviewers is nothing like their de-breifings with engineers and meetings for the next race.

    2. “he’s not going out of his way to make a statement”

      I disagree there, I think it’s a very, very strong statement. He didn’t need to answer the question that way at all. McLaren are not trying to sell themselves as the slowest team, why would they?

      1. Tristan, it’s a strong statement, but both an obvious one and one that HAS to be said.

  10. Ferrari fastest McLaren slowest….it’s a dream I don’t want to wake from.

    Alonso best drive a truck of humble pie to Maranello, promise to keep his mouth shut and drive for free for half a chance at a 3rd title.

    1. Seb won’t allow it. He got a good enough beating from Ricciardo…and the last person he wants in the other car is Fernando

      1. Don’t think he will have a choice. It would be a great battle, Seb seems to dip when no title chance gence 2014 and 2016. If RB carried on past form in 2014 I think The Grin would have got a pasting. Time may change my opinion but for now I cannot look at a 4 time race winner in the same light as a 4 time World Champion.

      2. Which fairy told you that story?

      3. The only way I see ALO back to Ferrari is if VET doesn’t win a championship if Red in fact have the best car on the grid.
        Pressure will be more intense for him this year.

  11. He’s just trying to put pressure on Honda and the team.

    1. To a point. I’m sure he would rather say nothing at all though then put pressure behind the scenes.
      People in comments sections often act like Alonso called a personal press conference, but he is obliged to answer silly questions over and over. The worse part of their job.

  12. Sviatoslav (@)
    26th March 2017, 9:18

    Alonso is right, they are the last or slightly faster than Sauber.
    Ricciardo didn’t race, Grosjean didn’t finish, both Force Indias are faster, Stroll made a fault yesterday and didn’t finish today… Renault had troubles. The best McLaren can get is 17-th place.

  13. It’s disgusting how Mclaren-Honda have had 4 years in this hybrid formula and instead of improving, have actually been getting worse each year! It astounds me.
    I used to have hope for the project, but after 4 years of being nowhere I think they are done.
    Alonso is a great driver and Mclaren-Honda should be ashamed!

  14. Suspension failure must have been Hondas fault too. Just like their ugly livery.
    Really hope they can turn this around.

  15. I’m surprised Alonso hasn’t thrown objects at Boullier & Hasegawa’s head yet. Must be frustrating to drag a car that belongs on the last row in to the points, just for it to break down 3 laps before the end.

  16. I read the remarks from alonso lovers and haters. Pretty extreme on both sides. I like Alonso and Ferrari, you have to wonder how they weren’t good enough together? Does having a driver that can drive anything hinder a team with development? Is it better to have a driver with a style so they can develope a car to that feedback? To this part I think Mercedes will struggle to develop as Rosberg was the template driver….

    1. Good point! The last time Ferrari built an F1 car that was the class of the field was back in 2004. Remember, Massa was good enough to almost win the 2008 DWC – had it not been for Crashgate he would have – yet he was miles behind Alonso at Ferrari. Conclusion inescapable: Alonso was getting so much out of successive Ferrari go-carts and trucks he made them look far better than they were.

  17. Swapping engine suppliers from the best engine produced in decades to an complete unkown was the single stupidest thing I have seen in F1.

    I suppose if you are a gambling man then it may have been tempting but they already had the best engine and they got ride of it.

    Itś time for Alonso to cut his losses and get out.

    1. Takeitlightly
      26th March 2017, 13:16

      It would have been stupid if you are a team that doesn’t really have the capability to win championship, and only hopes for a win or a few podiums, teams like Force India, Haas or Sauber. But this is Mclaren, and they know Mercedes won’t give them the best PU if their own team is under threat, that was Ron’s reasoning and it made sense. The decision is right, they just made a gamble on a manufacturer that didn’t really deliver.

      Maybe they should have contracted Cosworth, I believe Cosworth have a prototype and a lot more experience in F1.

  18. Artificially induced “fuel saving” is not racing. Sorry.

  19. I wonder how many laps Alonso was driving with the cracked chassis?
    Is there a site that gives the speed (speedtrap) of each team on the straits?
    Be interesting to see how much of a deficit Honda has.

  20. Alonso: Vettel, Raikonen and Massa were faster than you…again!

    1. what does your stupid comment mean ?? are u being sarcastic

  21. I think he may well be right. 8 teams had a car further up the grid than Alonso and I think he would back himself to be considerably faster than Ericsson in an equal car and probably believes he would be faster in a Sauber than he is in the McLaren.

  22. Sauber should be the last but I see his point.

  23. Vandoorne has said that McLaren are “more or less last”.

    http://en.f1i.com/news/263274-mclaren-is-in-last-place-admits-vandoorne.html

    I guess Vandoorne is an arrogant superstar too.

  24. Oouch that hurts both Honda and McLaren. To be honest I believe both have a fair share of problems. Honda and Mclaren are equally into it. I am no fan of the team but it is sad to see them struggle the way they do right now. It looks like all other teams including new comer HAAS have things under control. McLaren with its legacy experience and past relationship with Honda should have been a tad better. We saw Williams struggle but it was not this bad at any stage.

    I think the last time McLaren won a race was in 2012. That is a long time now. Ironically both Williams and McLaren won their last race in the summer of 2012. If Alonso leaves, just like Williams they will struggle to attract any good racing talent to the team.

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