Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Alonso praises Renault’s “outstanding” reliability

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso is very pleased with the “outstanding” reliability from his Renault power unit and credited it for the improved start McLaren has made to 2018 compared to last year.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s race in Baku the McLaren driver said the reliability of the power unit was the biggest change from his previous experience with Honda.

“It’s difficult to compare year to year, different circumstances. I always used this race to change the engine in the past and I always started 20th here. So it’s the first time that I don’t start 20th. That’s the only difference so far.

“I think the reliability, touch wood, but after four races, four qualifyings, four practice, we’re still running with the first component on everything, that has been good. That probably allowed us to score 22 points so far and that’s very positive.

“In terms of driving or how you feel the car is hard to compare because the cars change so much, the tyres change a lot, I think we bring two steps softer compounds this year compared to last year into this race with the ultra-soft, things like that. It’s always a little bit difficult to compare season after season. But reliability has been outstanding so far and that’s good.”

Both drivers finished Sunday’s race, increasing the team’s points tally to 36.

McLaren power unit component use after first four races


Fernando Alonso111111
Stoffel Vandoorne111111


Fernando Alonso233211
Stoffel Vandoorne255233

ICE: Internal Combustion Engine; TC: Turbocharger; MGU-H: Motor Generator Unit – Heat; MGU-K: Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic; ES: Energy Store; CE: Control Electronics

2018 F1 season

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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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52 comments on “Alonso praises Renault’s “outstanding” reliability”

  1. It certainly seems to be holding up so far. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would have been over the last few years racing your heart out, knowing that the engine would likely give out before crossing the line.

    There’s a lot of work to do to close the gap to the top three teams, but by finishing the races, it gives them a solid ground to improve on… or as Fernando put it: “Now we can fight”.

    As we’ve seen, on a normal day, they are still a way off the top. Finishing 4th or 5th in the Championship will be grounds for optimism for the future… whether Alonso is around to see what happens afterwards is another question.

    1. I have never been an Alonso fan, but he is quite clearly one of the very best, if not the best, driver in F1. For Alonso to not be in the hunt for the championship is a DISASTER for F1, and I mean that. To have to bear witness to drivers of the caliber of Alonso and Button fade away into insignificance at the McLaren grave yard has been an extreme sore point for me in my love of F1 and has, along with the utter dominance of Mercedes since 2014, contributed to me being someone who would not dream of missing a race, to someone who now only catches replays. So sad!

      Clearly this year, and to some extent last year, Mercedes has a fight on their hands which is good and making F1 once again more watchable. Thanks to that and the mastery of Danny Ric, my interest in F1 is returning. Thank GOD!

      1. Well put. Although other than a certain period during 2015, I’d argue that the Mercedes dominance has not been anywhere near as bad as Ferrari’s and most of the Red Bull dominance with their clearly defined #1 and #2 drivers.

  2. So this year’s Renault PU is more reliable than last year’s Honda. How does it compare to this year’s Honda PU?

    1. Well as both torro rosso drivers are on their second turbos and mgu-h and hartley is on his second ICE then I would say the Honda is certainly better than last year but still not as reliable as it should be.

    2. McLaren 36pts without DNF compares to Toro Rosso 13pts, 1 DNF and 4 last finished in 4 races so far. You tell me? Do some little research, before you try to instigate a fight.

    3. @nickwyatt
      I think both Toro Rosso drivers are on their 2nd components for Turbos, ICE and Mgu-H already. So … to answer your question… Honda remains rubbish in the reliability department.

      1. They have a lot to catch up, so new parts ( like Gaslys new generation, not by defect) will come during the year. Tey are looking for speed and reliability.. a tough fight to the top.
        Rubbish is not the word that fits in there.

  3. Praise to where it is due. For all my bickering of the Kimoa F1 team, they are the only ones running Renault power yet to suffer any reliability issue, so they must be doing something right.

    Of course Alonso has just jinxed it, so I expect at least a gearbox change for the Spanish GP

    1. @johnmilk

      Of course Alonso has just jinxed it, so I expect at least a gearbox change for the Spanish GP

      Me exact thoughts as well. Now, I’m expecting either a race ending failure … either Turbo or MGU-H.

      1. Arrr, me thoughts exactely, matey

        1. @todfod @mrboerns good news is, the Kimoa man can drive the best races of his career with destroyed cars

          1. @johnmilk question is, though, WHY did he name his brand after what can only be described as s merger between ‘Kimi’ and ‘bwoah’?

          2. @mrboerns don’t you have an idol? Someone that you look up to? A Hero?

    2. Maybe because they are the slowest Renault team. Engine does not have to push hard in that car ;)

  4. So it’s the first time that I don’t start 20th. That’s the only difference so far.

    By using the words “only difference”, Fernando is admitting that there is no difference in overall engine power or in top speed. Ha..

  5. What a difference a year makes in this case concerning the number of PU elements used after four races, LOL.

  6. Alonso pretty much stated the obvious but what next? Good upgrades might come at the next race, Renault will get closer to Mercedes and Ferrari’s engine power, McLaren will be able to properly integrate the power unit in their 2019 car etc. But does anyone seriously believe that McLaren can realistically catch the top three teams before 2021? The gap is just too big and I also doubt the team has enough resources to close it. Fighting for podiums, the occasional win – yes, maybe. But that is still clearly not enough for a driver like Alonso.

    1. I don’t think their is any doubt that McLaren have the resources to catch up. That does not mean they will but they have the capability.

      1. They lost a lot of resources” with Honda leaving. I am afraid McLaren will suffer on the money dept.

        1. I am not sure they lost any staff. Also they are still funded by very rich people (namely the country of Bahrain!)

    2. I think that McLaren have settled for being at least within reach of regular points and target the occasional podium for now @girts. That will help them actually get more partners (and convince key team members to stay) so that they will have a good basis to build on for 2021.

      They just couldn’t afford another year or two of dread with Honda, hoping, wishing, praying that they will hold together and that they will start making regular progress. It would mean the engineers lose faith, no new partners can be attracted and that leads to the path Williams, and before them the likes of Tyrell and Lotus etc. have followed.

    3. Theoretically, if Red Bull can fight for the championship with a Renault engine, then so can McLaren. McLaren is at a disadvantage because of the late switch from Honda to Renault, but if they integrate the PU better in to next year’s car design, and if Renault can close the gap to Ferrari and Mercedes on the PU side, McLaren have a genuine shot at the title before 2021.

      But it’s a lot of variables for now.. Renault has to close the gap on the PU side… McLaren has to make up for lost time on the new chassis.. so it seems unlikely, but not impossible.

  7. How old is Alonso? 36 or 37 this year? So he knows he cant get a winning car for the championship until 2021 as I don’t see room for him in the top 3. That puts him 39 or 40. I think Nigel Mansell was around 38 when he won in 1992 but that was a different era. If anyone could do that at 39 Alonso is the one, but I think that’s why he chases the big 3.

    As @girts says above, he may get an occasional win but that’s not enough for him. I think he will leave this year.

    1. But where could he go? Red Bull haven’t hired a driver from outside their Young Driver Academy since Mark Webber in 2007. The bridge to Ferrari is surely burned and they have Sebastian Vettel leading the team well. Which leaves Mercedes, who surely wouldn’t want an aging Alonso any more than they wanted him when Rosberg left. There simply isn’t room, unless Hamilton retires for some reason.

      1. @ben-n – I think @garns is alluding to the fact that Alonso will retire from F1. To your question, however, why not Renault, the team that he got his two titles with? As a works team, they have the resources and commitment to match and exceed McLaren.

        1. I had assumed @garns meant Alonso would “retire”, but can’t see why he would. He’s put a huge amount of time into McLaren; to simply give up doesn’t seem his way. I could only see him leaving the sport when he feels his skills deteriorating due to age (which doesn’t seem to be close) or once he’s won the World Championship for a third time.

          1. It would be such a shame if he did retire, I really want to see him in a top car again. McLaren has the capability to produce that, but not the time for Alonso to take advantage of it unless they develop something extraordinary for next year.

            If I were him, I’d be looking at the potential gap left by Danny Ric at RB. If they’re serious about having two top drivers then he’s the obvious choice, I just don’t think they are. Could be Verstappen/Gasly line up for them.

        2. @phylyp @ben-n
          Yes I was but maybe Renault could be an option if he really wanted a crack at that 3rd title. But they would need to give him a car to win the WDC in the next two years- can Renault do that?
          Yes fast in Baku against Red Bull but weren’t they both on quicker tyres?

          I personally think Alonso is better than Vettel and Hamilton (personal opinion- please don’t hate me) and would be hating the fact one of those will get the 5th this year and the other remain on 4 (has anyone other driver won a WDC apart from these three in the past 20 years??? – ((its a rhetorical question – don’t answer lol))

          So will with that fire is enough to keep trying or he packs it in? I hope he stays as he is brilliant but I suspect patience has run thin.

          1. @garns please don’t compare renault with red bulls in the first 16 laps in baku, red bulls had battery issues which were making them lap 2 seconds slower than usual, once they fixed them they breezed past sainz and started lapping on ferrari times.

            While renault improved and has the edge on mclaren they’re still nowhere near red bull, mercedes or ferrari.

          2. They also had US vs SS which helps a little ofc, but nowhere near the amount of time red bulls were off their usual pace.

    2. For WDC you mostly need the best car on the grid and be better than your teamate. Only 3 resonable options exist and only 2 are actually competitive.

      1. @esploratore – I wasn’t saying they are as quick as Red Bull, they are far from it. I was just asking if the pace difference was different tyres, but as you point out it was a battery issue. I was just saying if he does stick around Renault may be his best option, if they can get it together.

        1. Ah, right, I assume it’s only a few tenths through US vs SS tyres, so quite minor compared to red bull’s problem.

          Renault currently looks better than mclaren indeed, I’m surprised mclaren can’t get it together performance-wise, and ofc alonso has good memories with renault, so might as well go back there, but reaching the top teams is probably a too long-term goal for alonso.

  8. Really funny this. Alonso praising power unit.

    Maybe he learned from his mistakes, praising Honda on occassion for powet levels.

    1. What mistakes?
      You expected him to praise Honda even though they couldn’t get an engine to last more than one race (if that)?

  9. Garns, I am also a big Alonso fan. I think he will go to Renault…

  10. Zak Brown wants Alonso to have another crack at Indy 500 with McLaren, Alonso wants it too, so not sure he’d go to another team in F1 as it would look worse than him going to Toyota for WEC

    1. Yep, he’ll stay at McLaren for a couple more years. He knows Zak will work with him and he can continue to showcase his brand and have the flexibility of entering other series. No other driver has that luxury.

      Right now he is in the catbird seat. Of course the price he will pay is no more WDC’s in F1. But Alonso isn’t stupid – he knows his chance of a title is all but over but he likes racing and he’s making pretty good money to boot:)

  11. Would have been nice to see 2016 and 2015 there as well just for the sake of comparisons even though it is different rules.

  12. This is about all you can say about McLaren these days. After years toiling with one hand tied behind their backs, after years hearing about the exquisite packaging and top-tier handling of their cars being masked by the lousy Honda engine, one would expect McLaren to have vaulted clearly past Force India and even occasionally rival RBR this year. McLaren have had some terrible years, but this year seems to be somehow more bitter for a fan than others. Yes, it’s early days, but how long have we waited already?

    1. @dmw
      I’d have to say I was underwhelmed by McLaren right from pre season testing. I was hoping for them to start the season in 4th place and was genuinely hoping they would challenge the top 3 by the end of the year… but I think it was an ambitious ask of them. After pre season testing, I expected them to start as the 6th fastest team and work themselves up to the 4th fastest by mid point of the season. Now, I’m questioning whether they will beat Renault to finish 4th at the end of the season.

      I think how they progress during the season will set the tone for their next 2 to 3 seasons. If their updates fail to deliver and they do not find the gains they’re looking for, then it could be back to the drawing board on this chassis. That would result in more catching up next year… and consequently reducing their chances of being a real threat to the top 3 before 2021.

    2. It’s not only the engine and the chassis were they had/have problems. Look at the way the team is organised , look at the way they perform a pitstop.. There’s a lot wrong in the ML organisation and loosing the 100Million from Honda only aggravates the problems.

  13. To finish first you must first finish.
    McLaren are doing great with this first step. A couple of years ago they developed the car during the season and ended up with the fastest car at the end.
    Hopefully they can do it again-it is fun, but a little stressful, to watch this year. I nearly had a heart attack watching Alonso drive back to the pits with the damaged car.
    But it’s better than the agony of the past three years.

  14. Let’s hope that if/when McLaren catches the front runners F1 doesn’t change the rules to send to the back of the bus again.

  15. 36 isn’t old anymore, if Alonso continues to have the motivation to race, he could carry on into his 40’s.

  16. I can hear the conversation now between Mclaren & Renault.

    “We don’t have anything nasty to say about you like that other team do….. maybe you’d be better off without them..”

    1. Next race… Barcelona.. Alonso on radio..

      oh my god.. this is a real F1 engine

  17. Alonso has been very consistent. He’s 6th place in the WDC with a car that’s about 5th best (Mercedes, RBR, Ferrari, Force India and Renault). With a car that’s able to fight, he’s showing his immense value to this Mclaren team still stuck in the midfield.

    1. 5th best Team = 11th and 12th best car puts his 6th in better perspective

      1. 6th best I meant, 5th best team is as high as they’ll get this year unless they have a miracle in aero department

  18. It’s outstanding. No more excuses please. We kind of knew McLaren were all talk now we can stop blaming honda for the speed. Lets hope Renaults reliability is worse than Toyotas.

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