Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Bahrain “far from ideal” for McLaren – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso calls on McLaren to raise their game after finishing a lapped seventh in Bahrain.

What they say

Alonso said he was pleased with the team’s double points finish after both cars failed to reach Q3 again.

I think the weekend has been far from ideal from us, not competitive enough. At the end in the points both cars I think is a great result.

Looking at how the weekend went I think the race on Sunday was the best session for us. It’s where the points are given so happy for that.

We need to raise our game, I think next race we need to make a step forward. It was too poor the qualifying and the starting positions were compromised because of that. So we need to find a bit more pace. But so far happy: fifth in Australia, seventh here, 16 points I think so not bad.

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Comment of the day

Toro Rosso provided the surprise of the weekend in Bahrain:

Now this is what sport is all about!

There were so many negative comments when the switch to Honda power at Toro Rosso was announced, about how they were going to be trundling around at the back of the grid. But everyone has gotten their heads down, worked hard and it has paid dividends.

No complaints when they had their failures at the first grand prix. Even from testing you got the idea that they were a team pulling in the same direction. They’ve got on with it in the correct manner (further highlighted by how other teams have behaved in the not too distant past), and so it makes it more of a delight to see the engineers and team members’ beaming smiles and celebrations at such a great result.

Some fortune was needed, admittedly, but hopefully this positivity can be a springboard for them to carry on being competitive. Congratulations.
Dom (@3dom)

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  • 61 comments on “Bahrain “far from ideal” for McLaren – Alonso”

    1. People forget that to this day Jarno Trulli still has records in some obscure high-tech Japanese and French simulators for being the best single-lap driver ever in one-lap optimal lap calculations. We would’ve never knew Alonso could be beaten in quali by a driver like Trulli over a whole season. Qualifying requires an skill-set, it’s quite fine as is is.

      Btw, after Ferrari getting their strategy right, Hamilton finally focusing on racing instead of testing the ”best fans”, Honda reviving, Sauber even getting into the midfield, DRS not being too powerful, Kimi getting screwed again, Haas bickering, RBR emptying the garages after 10 laps….and even ESPN not (……..) up……..wait for it…. did you hear anyone about the halo? No, ”but”.. No you didn’t.
      There, F1 is fine.

      1. Well said. That’s what F1 is all about right there. Well done TR Honda. And hell, even Sauber.

      2. “Pole position” is a recognised honour in F1: it means that driver and his car were the fastest of all the competing cars on a timed lap of the race track. Changing the Qualifying system will change whether Pole is to be recognised as an honour or not. Say, for example, the grid was determined by lot, then being on Pole would be recognised as the consequence of chance, so there’d be little point in mentioning it as though it were meritorious because it wouldn’t be, it would simply be a point of interest in relation to the formation lap and the start of the race.

    2. Gasly took the headlines, and while i was very impressed by him, i put it behind Ericsson’s drive! It was stellar! I don’t like the guy but he really surprised me. He chose his fights so well. Well done to him, my driver of the day!

      1. Agree. Best drive I’ve seen from Ericsson.
        But still not as measured and mature as Gassly’s.

      2. Agreed. Both stars this race IMO.

    3. When will Ben Hunt stop whining?

    4. Can you imagine… IF ONLY Maclaren had that Honda engine how far up the grid they’d be!! Oh wait.

      1. It is easy to say it now. After total disaster of 3 years it was the right move get as far away from honda as possible.

        1. Yeah I was cringing a bit when Johnny Herbert was suggesting perhaps Mac would be regretting their decision to depart from Honda. That’s so ridiculous. They had to make what was a very tough decision about Honda, half a year ago. At that time nobody in their right mind would have given them a 4th strike to get it right. And the jury is still out anyway. One good weekend in 4 years does not now define them has having found their way and put all that behind them. I predict McLaren will prevail over STR over the season.

          I also note in that clip where Zak Brown was driving FA around the track in a McLaren supercar and they were asking each other questions…when it came to ‘Honda or Renault?’ both of them agreed ‘both’ and FA said of Honda ‘we love those guys’. So it just didn’t come together for Honda and Mac. The schoolyard finger pointing and the blaming is much more of a media and fan thing than in reality how these professionals interact with one another. FA, ZB, and McLaren knows Honda was trying their hardest and what happened is the last thing they wanted and were trying desperately to avoid.

          1. The schoolyard finger pointing and the blaming is much more of a media and fan thing than in reality how these professionals interact with one another

            @robbie: Have you forgotten the “GP2 engine” comments? That sounded a lot like a professional pointing fingers and blaming to me.

            1. @alonshow No I haven’t forgotten that there were comments made in the heat of the moment out of frustration, mainly pointing out the obvious, and in the case of the GP2 comment, out of embarrassment, but as I said it is moreso some media and many fans that do the more schoolyard type finger pointing. FA would have, after the heat of the moment, gone back to the garage, or the factory, and had professional discussions about what they can all do together, while fans on F1 sites were still saying so and so sucks, so and so is washed up, shouldn’t be in F1, they’re amateurs etc etc. You never heard that kind of schoolyard stuff from anyone at Mac.

            2. @robbie: Heat of the moment is a driver making a harsh comment to his team about a sudden and unexpected problem (e. g., Ham complaining about Mercedes communication issues this weekend). When the problem has been known for years and the driver keeps attacking his team every other race, that’s not heat of the moment, that’s calculated finger pointing.

            3. @alonshow As I say, it was never ‘schoolyard’ like you can read on sites like these from armchair enthusiasts. Even your use of the terms ‘attacking his team’ ‘every other race’ is taking licence with what would have really been going on behind closed doors. Do you think he actually went to the factory and levelled the same insults you hear people throw out around here? e.g. he said having what amounted to a GP2 engine was embarrassing…and so was Honda embarrassed, as they should have been. That doesn’t make them amateurs who can’t make a good engine and don’t belong in F1, which is what we heard for several years from fans. If it was up to fans, Honda wouldn’t have lasted with Mac for one season, let alone be given three to show something.

              Putting another way…if anybody had a right to express frustration it was FA, and yet as I started out by pointing out, he can still say ‘they love those guys’ at Honda. That’s a tad more mature than kids in a schoolyard, or speaking anonymously on an F1 forum, no?

            4. @robbie: Can’t see any substantial difference between (repeatedly) saying “this is a GP2 engine” (which essentially means that the guys who build it belong in GP2) and saying “the guys who made this engine don’t belong in F1”. Mind you, I’m not saying FA was wrong. That WAS a GP2 engine, that’s the bitter truth, and Honda were fully responsible for that. But whether he was right or not, it still is finger pointing, something you want to avoid when you are working as a team.

            5. @alonshow I will stick to my opinion that FA is far more professional and diplomatic than armchair fans are. Perhaps you can cite the ‘repeated’ times FA called it a GP2 engine, and I’ll caution you to suss out the number of times various media articles kept spinning the same remark over and over. I think you’ll find it was closer to one time.

              I’m sure surprised you can’t distinguish between saying out of frustration this is embarrassing, when we all felt the discomfort on FA’s behalf of Honda still not getting it right through three full seasons, which was indeed embarrassing, and saying ‘the guys that made this engine don’t belong in F1.’ That’s you choosing to decide two completely different statements or sentiments are the same, just to suit your argument. FA would never say something so harsh as that, so for you to equate the two sentiments means you are just going to continue to miss my point.

              Again, he and Zak said they love those guys at Honda. And I just thought that was great to hear.

            6. @robbie: If you believe that “this is a GP2 engine” and “the guys who made this engine don’t belong in F1” are two completely different statements, then I think it’s time to agree to disagree.

            7. @alonshow Exactly the point I made with my last comment. When you can find a quote that has FA saying something as harsh as staff on his own team (meaning Honda staff in this case) ‘don’t belong in F1’ then I’ll change my stance. You projecting on me that I should assume, along with you, FA’s meaning, isn’t going to cut it. Let’s deal with factual quotes, not made up ones that you throw out of your own, with which to put words in FA’s mouth.

            8. @robbie: I didn’t make up any quotes, the only FA quote I’ve used is “this is a GP2 engine”, (or, to be more precise, if you will, “[this is a] GP2 engine”). I’m sure you agree that’s an accurate quote. Other than that, I insist it’s time to agree to disagree.

            9. if anybody had a right to express frustration it was FA

              Nowadays it does feel more like FA’s F1 team than actually McLaren’s, so you might be right there @robbie, it is not the team that should be frustated, because they can’t replicate their past form, but Alonso because he can’t get that new wdc, and clearly he is much more important

          2. The schoolyard finger pointing and the blaming is much more of a media and fan thing

            Absolute nonsense. Fernando trashed the engine publicly and vocally on a weekly basis.

            1. No he was actually quite diplomatic all things considered. He was mature about it. And as I say, he just finished acknowledging with Zak Brown that they ‘love those guys,’ at Honda. Sure he was critical of them, but not in a schoolyard manner akin to what you can see on F1 forums, is all I’m saying.

            2. Rubbish – he didn’t do it weekly. Considering what he experienced for 3 years, he acted admirably.
              Would Hamilton acted better? Or Vettel? Or Vesteppen who whined to no end last year when he had issues far less severe than Alonso did over 3 years? Thank you.
              BTW, what would you have done?
              Oh wait, since you are not a 2 time WDC and one of, if not the best drivers on the grid, in fact you are not a driver at all but a arm chair critic, you wouldn’t know would you?
              Alonso wanted nothing more than to be competitive. Honda failed him and more importantly McLaren over a period of 3 years – no excuses.

          3. @alonshow Yeah you did. Perhaps re-read your comment from 16:34 where you try to convince me his quote and your quote are the same. Anyway, we certainly should agree to disagree.

      2. The Honda engine fitted to the Toro Rosso car wouldn’t be the same as what Honda would have fitted to a McLaren car if the contract had continued. Toro Rosso modified their car to suit the Honda engine, and Honda modified their engine to suit the car.

        1. That is a huge simplification. Building an f1 car is about compromises. Neither part can just make a list what they want without the other one agreeing to do it. If mclaren had silly list of things they wanted then honda have had to agree and tell mclaren they can do those things when they either know or don’t know they can’t. It is not the fault of mclaren to ask for too much. It is honda’s fault to promise to deliver and then fail. (if that is what even happened)

      3. wow… a little sarcasm goes along way. If you have serious comments, maybe attach them to a serious thread. lol

    5. Regarding the Autosport-article: Although I wouldn’t be absolutely against this idea, I still doubt it’d really be worth it. The current race weekend format is working adequately well already, so just leave it as it is. There’s no absolute need to alter the race weekend format so that it’d shift more towards what it’s like in the support categories (F2, GP3, etc.)
      ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    6. They’ve got on with it in the correct manner (further highlighted by how other teams have behaved in the not too distant past)

      I wouldn’t paint Toro Rosso as saints when it comes to engine supplier relationships, they are from the Red Bull family after all. Right now, they’re giving Honda a long leash as they explore the option of Honda power for RBR.

      Let either Renault force the issue, or let RBR pull the trigger – once RBR are on Honda power, Honda’ll start feeling the heat and receiving tongue-lashings, the way Renault did since 2014.

      1. @phylyp obviously F1 is a highly competitive cauldron, but if this current approach continues to bear fruit, maybe Red Bull will finally realise that this approach yields better results than the “scathing via the media” approach that they’ve previously employed

    7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      9th April 2018, 4:26

      McLaren are 3rd in points…. Yeah I know it’s just 2 races but this is incredible compared to the previous years.

    8. I disagree that Hamilton’s comment wasn’t heat of the moment– no it wasn’t a sound bite from him in the car during the heat of the race, but it was a hot mic in the cooldown room after the clip happened to play in front of him. His reaction was actually more extemporaneous than a hypothetical comment during the race which would have required him to purposely broadcast it to his team. So I think what he said did have the characteristic of being spur-of-the-moment.

      1. @chaddy – Good point.

        I also wonder if there’s a translation gap at play as well with respect to the reporter who asked the question, because while the word itself appears rude, its usage amongst English speakers is equivalent to calling someone a “jerk” or something similar (maybe a tad stronger, but nothing greatly so).

        It’s nowhere as rude as Magnussen’s comment to the Hulk last year although they all deal with roughly the same parts of the anatomy.

        1. @phylyp

          So amongst danish speakers its considered very rude to speak about said genitals?

          I can tell you its no big deal in either case. I can translate Magnussen for you, he said “get off my back”, or in even more plain word “stop harassing me”.

          1. He asked the Hulk to fellate him, IIRC, @rethla

            1. nah, he talked about the balls, that’s different

      2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        9th April 2018, 7:46

        Also Seb heard the comment in the debriefing room because he pulled an amusing face at the time. So probably knew what they were referring to.

      3. Yeah I’m in agreement with your comment here, it wasn’t in the heat of the exact moment it happened, but it was the first time Hamilton saw a replay immediately after the race when the adrenaline would still have been flowing. It was his immediate reaction after his first chance to see the incident. It’s not like he’s studied it several times in private, thought about it, then come up with a quote aimed at the camera. That was entirely off-the-cuff.

        1. If the room had of been filled with children would he have said what he said out loud? I think not. Are there heaps of children interested in formula one? Yes. They watch it. They have their stars who they look up to. Furthermore more if your going to refer to someone as Hamilton did then he can man up and say it to Verstappen’s face. Not behind someone’s back like a …….. Show some respect. Acknowledge that it was an irresponsible error in hind sight and do the right thing by the kids or just be a bunch of “yobo’s”. Show some self control. If this is unreasonable of me then I suppose it’s say what ever you like guys in the heat of the moment (which it was not) and don’t give a damn about setting an example to our future generations. If your going to do it then I can think of much better words to use. Let’s just go for it. Inconsiderate stupidity is what it was.

    9. I think Mclaren have a lot of work to do. Their quali pace looks really sub par,and their strategy for the race was really poor. Why start him on softs when you’re going to pit him at the same time as drivers who were on supersofts? And was there any need to mimic hulkenbergs strategy of going for a late switch to supersofts?

      1. I often question McLaren’s strategy, but yesterday they somehow managed to get Vandoorne from 20th position after turn 1 to 8th position at the finish and some of that was due to having a better strategy than others, keeping the first stint short and doing a strong stint on mediums which worked very well on the McLarens.

        1. Didn’t work for Alonso though. He had clawed himself up to P7 despite starting on the slower compound. After that they just maintained his position throughout the race, even though he did have strategic options that could have gotten him ahead of Magnussen.

    10. Absolutely agree with Will Buxton’s call for changes to F1 pitstops. And specifically reducing the number of people involved to slow them down.

      I don’t know about others, but I really don’t find 2-2.5s pitstops particularly impressive. Sure I respect the choreography and the hours of practuce they must put in, but with the number of people involved it just looks a mess, like a two second rugby scrum. Three people PER WHEEL? Seriously?

      I’d much prefer smaller pit crews – Indycar, F2, WEC etc all do fine with one person per wheel, but perhaps two people per wheel might be a good compromise. The pitstops are slightly slower, and safer because they give more time for the crew and driver to react to problems – as well as simply having less people in the firing line. But most importantly, I really think it increases the human factor with pitstops.

      On an unrelated note, how refreshing is it that Liberty are allowing Buxton (an employee and effectively an official spokesperson for F1) to actually give constructive criticism? I imagine in the Bernie era any opinions critical of the regime (or any promotion of other series, as Buxton often tweets about) would be harshly punished.

      1. I find those 2 second pit stops involving 26 people to be one of the coolest aspects about F1. Really symbolises how in F1, no cost or effort is too great to save a few tenths. I’d be sorry to see it go.

        1. I wouldn’t change anything just because of one incident, which really had nothing to do with 3 men on each wheel, but was about why KR was given the go-ahead to go when they weren’t ready to release him.

    11. McLaren may be having a big pace deficit, and not be in the expected level after shifting from Honda to Renault, particularly in qualifying, but they do stay out of trouble in the race when the more fancied teams falter. Their team strategy, flawless performance from Alonso and Vandoorne, and the reliability of their Renault-powered machines have helped them finish races with enough pace to be 3rd in the constructors’ standings! They’re the best of the rest, behind the Ferrari and Mercedes, even ahead of Aston Martin Red Bull!

      Red Bull and Toro Rosso Honda – taking Gasly’s performance into account, were more superior on pace, and so where Renault and Haas (taking both the weekends into account). And McLaren is ahead of all of them – third best team in the points! And Alonso is 4th in the drivers’ standings, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and both Ricciardo and Verstappen!

      I know others’ mistakes have played a big part in that, and McLaren urgently need to solve their qualifying pace deficit, but it’s been a great season for the team till now. Celebration is in order.

      1. that would be more relevant if we weren’t only in the 2nd race of the season. Pace wise if things remain the same McLaren will eventually drop in the championship.

    12. I am shocked that Brawn would consider changing the qualifying format. In my opinion, the qualy sessions last season were more entertaining than the races that followed. F1 must learn to stop fixing things that are not broken.

      1. ”F1 must learn to stop fixing things that are not broken.” – I couldn’t agree more with that part of your sentence.

        1. But the qualifying system is terribly broken. All the action happens in the last minute of each of the three parts; too much things going on the follow then while the rest of the qualifying hour is just waiting for those few minutes that matter. Qualifying could be so much better.

          1. Yeah no need for ‘shock’ as this is just an idea being floated. I would say there might be more ‘need’ for something like this now, with passing generally difficult, in order to ‘shake things up,’ but presumably in the next gen post-2020 that shouldn’t be necessary with the closer racing that they’re aiming for.

          2. @krommenaas It’s not really the quali-format, though, but the fact that tyres, engines, gearboxes are limited. The qualifying itself is not broken, but aspects of F1’s general problems do find their way into appearing in qualifying.

            1. No those things have nothing to do with qualifying being an event in which nothing happens for 55 of the 60 minutes it takes. That’s all down to the quali-format, and it could be improved so you get interesting action for more than just those 3 x 1.5 minutes.

          3. I agree with both sides here. The knockout qualifying isn’t broken at all, but there is a lot of downtime. If anything, I’d like to see F1 double-down on the format—say, five rounds, with time only for one timed, flying lap. That would provide more chequered-flag drama, and by leaving no second chances, increase the odds of mixing up the grid.

      2. I think the current qualifying system is the best it’s ever been, and I disagree about the downtime being an issue. You get a steady build up then the tension ramps up for the last 2-3 minutes, if it was tense all the time those moments probably wouldn’t be as exhilarating. I would say the only time I’m disappointed with qualifying is when the track gets slower so nobody improves towards the end of a section.

    13. Totally against the idea of qualifying races or a sprint race of any kind as I feel having a 2nd race just devalues the main one.

      Additionally I can see everyone playing it safe in a qualifying race to not risk damaging the car or putting too much stress on engines, gearboxes etc…. As such I think a qualifying race would likely end up with cars lapping at a steady pace with no bold overtaking attempts as to not risk damage that could hinder there chances in the main race.

      The weekend format, Especially in terms of qualifying & race is fine as it is & there’s no reason to change it, Especially not with the primary reason been to hopefully ‘mix up the grid’ in some way.

      1. A qualifying race would be just like the first part of the actual race. There’s absolutely no reason to not try to gain positions. If anything, you can afford to be more agressive, because if you crash out you can still start the sunday race at the back so all is not lost.

        I love the idea of a short race after qualifying but it should just be 5 or 10 laps or so.

    14. Regarding the Autosport article: How can Brawn even voice consideration of qualifying races when with every breath they are speaking of reducing costs? A qualifying race would almost certainly be a “sprint” event, everyone being even more aggressive than normal. Parts breakage, additional high stress time on power unit components, it just makes NO sense at all!

      1. Well first of all it is just an idea being floated. I have a feeling most teams will disagree with it and it won’t happen. I like that Brawn is trying several things on for size to suss out ideas for 2021, but I think a Saturday quali race shouldn’t be necessary to ‘shake things up’ if some of his other proposals go through and we have closer racing on Sundays anyway.

    15. I really can’t believe they are even considering a “qualifying race”. Talk about the “DNA” of Formula One; if anything is part of F1’s DNA it is qualifying to establish the starting grid. Sure, the format has changed over the years, but it was always based on the time of a single best-lap. A qualifying race on Saturday degrades the value of the Sunday race. It’s as though Liberty has never heard the truism that “sometimes less is more”. And this is before we get into the issues around three engines and grid penalties, and adding the expense of crashed cars on Saturday despite “cost control” being a priority.
      If they want to have a race on Saturday they should do it in equally prepared cars. For example, how awesome would it be if there were a race in 22 equally-prepared Formula Atlantics or similar? How about 22 equally prepared 250 cc super-karts? 22 equally prepared original Austin Mini saloon cars? That would be better than the Grand Prix on Sunday! Of course, the problem is who is going to pay the bills for these cars; not Liberty, that’s for sure.

    16. It was obvious last year that verstappen was a crash or win headline grabber. So many people gushed over him starry eyed… but how many crashes last year! Including wiping out his team mate in Hungary. Nowa 2018 two spins and a crash in the first two races. Too much risk in all that pace.

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