Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Albert Park, 2018

McLaren still has “huge potential to unlock” with Renault – Alonso

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says McLaren still have great potential to unlock from their car after he narrowly missed out on reaching Q3 today.

He said he was happy with 11th place on the grid: “It’s what we have today and what we deserve.”

2018 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“I think we showed some performance this morning in the free practice, especially this morning on damp conditions.

“We have huge potential to unlock in the car. We still have some issues before unlocking everything. I think the the next coming races we can look forward to the season very optimistic.”

Alonso believes the teams can still find more performance “for free” from improving the optimisation of its Renault power unit.

“We are, together with Toro Rosso, we are the only team to have a new integration of a power unit into the team, the system, into the performance, the set-up et cetera,” he said.

“There [is] performance that will come for free, let’s say, when we are a little bit more adapted to the Renault power unit. And the other teams will not have that because they are obviously optimised already.”

He predicted their first race with Renault power will be “one of the first races in the last couple of years that probably we don’t need to defend.”

“We will go for attacking mode. Also the weather factor that is still a risk for tomorrow, some showers. If that arrives the race will be great.”

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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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  • 16 comments on “McLaren still has “huge potential to unlock” with Renault – Alonso”

    1. Well his pace in P3 when it’s damp is pretty great. Here’s hoping for a shower tomorrow.

    2. Well, McLaren definitely look good compared to their testing woes. However, their relatively impressive showing does lead to another point…

      The question that must be on the back of Zak Brown’s mind is probably the same as that for Christian Horner – at what point will Renault start treating them as a threat to the works team’s own ambitions, and what is plan B?

      1. @phylyp

        I think we’re more likely to see Renault pull their works team from F1 again before they cripple their paying customers.

        1. Tell that to Toro Rosso.

          Renault are in for the long term and they will fight on and off the track. RB already realised that, McLaren should be on the look out for a plam B immediately

          1. I guess it all depends of one of the biggest talking point this year, the next engine regulations. Plan B could be building its own engine or a new works partner.

            1. Hard to say. I think for now Mac is just going to enjoy actually feeling like they’re ‘in’ F1, not just observing from the doldrums. So I see them giving themselves a nice boost this year in their mojo. They’ll actually be able to run well enough to confirm chassis and aero ideas and grow that way. That I’m aware of I don’t think they’re switching engines again next year, so all they have to concern themselves with right now is growing as best they can this season, back into something respectable.

              Perhaps their thinking for the future might be that if Renault the works team continues to lag behind their customers, RBR in this case, and RBR switches to Honda next season, they (Mac) can replace RBR as the customer team that functions like a works team. That said being aware that Renault are pumping up their own works team too, but as we obviously know, they’ve done just as well as a supplier in the past, and this year RBR will be a force again, but for I suppose 40 or so hp and a party mode for quali.

              Anyway I see Mac with Renault through 2020 until the next major regs change, and then who knows.

            2. @robbie McLaren needs to win to be respected. I just don’t see it happening with Renault. Especially when they will be fighting for the same piece of tarmac week in week out.

              The kind of relationship between RBR and Renault will cease to exist, that’s why RBR has their private test lab in STR

              They have to wait for the new regs, that is obvious, no other solution for the moment. Until then I’m afraid, taking i to account the standards that they are compared to, they will be just observing

            3. @johnmilk I don’t disagree, but at least for now Mac should start to feel better about themselves. I think Mac is respected and most understand how surprising and disappointing Honda was.

    3. Yikes… here we go again with Alonso and McLaren.
      Bookmarks this article and look it up in October and see them still crying up behind their benchmarks (which gets to be tems further and further back)

    4. Race one of this new McRenault marriage…I would say FA and team have every reason to be optimistic, at least compared to the last 3 seasons. They’re going to enjoy actual racing, actual progress throughout the season, and they/we always knew they were not going to be contending for the titles this year. It’s going to be way more fun for us fans too, to see FA work this car. Much more to come.

      1. I do not understand your optimism. Fernando and McLaren could not stop talking about the quality of their chassis last year. It was probably the best chassis of the field.
        What shiws in the first outing of the new season: their fellow Renault customer team is 1.2 seconds faster with slower tires! Nice and well to talk about debelopment, but to me it shows they were lying their ass off last year and will have another year of “development”.

        1. Agree, it’s not like we can say mclaren did a good job in performance so far, they’re slower than renault which was basically a B series team, while red bull was an A series team in 2017, and obviously mclaren’s goal should be to fight with red bull, not renault, and they said it themselves that it wouldn’t look good if they’re 9 tenths slower than red bull, and now they’re 1,2 sec down?

      2. @robbie – I too see a promising start since we are talking about improvements that can and need to be made to improve the chances for McLaren throughout this season. Improvements and future options are being discussed! Not the extreme utter dread of realizing the whole season ahead will be spent in a bitter disaster with no realistic hope for improvement into a normal race season with achievable challenges.

        As it stands now, Haas have surprised a bit moving forward and FI have surprised a bit moving back, despite their Merc power. McLaren have the ability to develop and improve better than some of the other teams and I hope they will.

    5. I expect it will take a few races for McLaren to get their mojo.
      As an Alonso fan, I am hoping for the best but he better start performing – he screwed up twice in qualy which may have bumped him up a spot.
      I think he has spread himself too thin or he may be losing his mojo.
      In either case, I wish he would quit wearing that stupid KIMEO hat.
      He is getting paid by McLaren and should proudly wear their hat.
      If he falters this year, McLaren should look elswhere – let him concentrate on his business;)

      1. Bagley, compared to what some drivers used to do in the past when it was more common to switch between various racing series, Alonso’s calendar is still not especially intensive by historical standards, making it debatable whether he’s really “spreading himself too thin”.

        To put it in perspective, just look at what drivers like Jim Clark used to get up to in the 1960’s – in 1965, asides from winning the Formula 1 championship, along with competing in another four non championship races held to Formula 1 regulations, he also won the Formula Tasman championship, won the French Formula 2 championship, won the Indianapolis 500 and competed in the British Touring Car Championship.

        Even with the extension of the current Formula 1 calendar, plus a full WEC championship, Alonso is due to compete in 26 races in 2018 (the WEC championship being split over 2018 and 2019). Now, when you consider that Clark racked up 36 races in 1965, or nearly 40% more races than Alonso is due to complete, it shows that it’s not necessarily that high a workload by historical standards (and whilst 1965 was Clark’s busiest year, he still did 34 races in 1964, 29 in 1966 and 27 in 1967 – in other words, for at least four years Clark maintained a higher workload than Alonso will do this year).

        That wasn’t an abnormal workload for that era either – Graham Hill, alongside Clark for much of that era, routinely managed a workload of about 25 races a year on average for the best part of a decade, even when he was entering his early 40’s, whilst others such as Gurney or Stewart also put in seasons with more than 25 races apiece. If drivers in the past could manage to run that many races in a season without being thought of as spreading themselves too thin, then I do not see why it would be impossible now.

        1. I hope you are right. It will be great if he has a good year in F1.

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