Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

McLaren upgrades not enough to fight top teams yet – Alonso

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says the upgrades McLaren brought to the Spanish Grand Prix aren’t enough for them to start fighting the top teams yet.

A distinctive new nose design was part of a package of upgrades McLaren brought for last weekend’s race. However Alonso said the team’s ambitions are confined to the midfield for now.

“We knew that the upgrades put ourselves in a better position in the midfield pack,” said Alonso. “I think we catch up with Renault and probably with Haas as well.

“But the top three teams, they’re still developing the car at the same rate we do and we keep that gap, unfortunately.”

McLaren fell to fifth behind Renault in the constructors’ championship last weekend. Alonso expects a difficult fight with them over the rest of the season.

“I think it’s going to be tough,” he said. “We did a good step here. We were eight-tenths behind Renault in Baku, nine-tenths behind Renault in China. And here we were the same in qualifying and quite the same in the race.

“So we did a step forward but we know that it’s going to be a big battle until the end and it’s important to score points every race.”

Alonso admitted he thought his points-scoring streak was going to end after the first lap in yesterday’s race.

“We started with the softer tyre because [in] qualifying two we did with a red tyre. The aim was to gain positions in the first couple of laps and then stop very early because we had the softer tyre.

“But we lost positions on the first lap with the incident in turn two. We found ourselves in a very difficult position in lap two, lap three, and I thought it was impossible to get the points.

“Luckily we had a good race, we keep scoring points, five consecutive races in the points, that’s what we wanted and I’m really happy right now.”

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Dieter Rencken
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23 comments on “McLaren upgrades not enough to fight top teams yet – Alonso”

  1. Poor ALO… He’s like a fish on moving sands not being able to fight for a podium position at least for 4 years in a row! It’s such a shame Ferrari waste their 2nd seat with RAI and even Mercedes with BOT. We could use ALO up there with HAM, VET, VER and RIC.

    Hang in there, buddy, best chance to give top3 a run for their money is 2021!

  2. I wouldn’t say that fighting with a Sauber most of the race is a step forward

    1. Obviously, you didn’t read the article closely.
      McLaren gained 8 or 9 tenths with the upgrade.
      That IS a big step forward.

      1. A lot of that will be down to the track. McLaren’s drag penalty will have hurt them much less in Spain (and they should be strong in Monaco for the same reason.)

      2. Dude they got lapped by a Red Bull running the same engine. McLaren are nowhere.

      3. They didn’t gain anything close to that. Maybe 2 tenths, if that much.

      4. @ Mikes: do not believe that 1 bit. I’ll be amazed if they gained even 0.4sec with the upgrade.

      5. With the “8 or 9 tenths”, Alonso is referring to the gain on Renault.
        He completely forgot to mention the 6 or 7 tenths they lost on Haas.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    14th May 2018, 13:38

    Well, I’m sure by now they are wondering where the claim that they have the best chassis came from. Obviously they do not have the best chassis. It’s definitely worse than Red Bull’s and I’m not convinced if it’s better than Renault’s.

    It’s also debatable if their chassis is better than Toro Rosso’s considering their performance with the Honda engines. It also didn’t look better than Sauber or Haas.

    The claim that they might have the worst chassis or one of the worst ones is probably a more tenable one.

    1. The claim that they might have the worst chassis … is probably a more tenable one.

      Williams says: “Hold my beer!”

      @freelittlebirds – agree with your general point. I think McLaren need to first target consistently beating Haas in qualifying and the race, before aspiring to challenge the front three teams. Force India in previous years were a midfield benchmark, but until now they oscillate between good and relatively poor performances.

    2. It looked much better than sauber since Alonso pulled like 20 seconds on leclerc by the end of the race. It was just so hard to overtake.

      Yes the worst chassis on the grid is on par with Renault in the constructors championship….

      Also I fail to recall when they said this years chassis was the best

      Sometimes I wonder if you people even watch the races or you just spew hate for the sake of it.

      Their aim is to get on top of the midfield consistently. There’s no way that they can realistically challenge the top 3. Not this year and not in the next couple of years either. The top 3 including red bull have bigger budgets, more resources and more employees than McLaren. That is what dictates speed and competitiveness generally

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        14th May 2018, 20:50

        I’m not sure it’s better than the Renault chassis – we shall find out.

        Actually, it was McLaren’s mistake to make that claim – Button mentioned that last week. I think McLaren expected at the very least to be close to Red Bull. Optimistically, they would have matched Red Bull and ideally they would have had an advantage over Red Bull.

        Looking at the results of the first 4 races, they have fallen short of expectations and if it’s not the drivers or the engine, then it has to be the chassis or the way the engine works with the chassis.

        Vandoorne really has to step it up over the next few races (I think if he doesn’t improve by the break they’ll be looking at a replacement), or he’ll find himself sharing the same fate as Perez and Magnussen.

    3. When you say Chassis…..

      They may have the best Chassis. I’ll argue it is almost impossible to verify if you are outside the McLaren team if the issue is Chassis, Aero Package, or, both.

      Whatever the actual package issues are I’m sure Eric Boullier is not the man to sort them out. Please be gone soon Eric & take your brand of bluster with you.

  4. It can barely fight the Sauber….

    1. FreddyVictor
      14th May 2018, 16:17

      I thinks that’s *slightly* unfair
      Agreed ALO couldn’t pass LEC, but, in the later stages, he was consistently faster than LEC by an ever increasing amount over the closing 15 laps or so

    2. Unless we didn’t watch the same race, about nobody was able to fight.

  5. I cant imagine how much different the RBR is. In how many ways better..with the same engine is 1.5-2 seconds faster. How much can they improve it? If you dont have the right innovative staff…they didnt change the bargeboards at all.

    1. Red bull also have a bigger budget, more resources and around 150 more staff. Mclaren is going nowhere near red bull in the near future. The best they can hope for is topping the midfield and being there when the top three teams falter

      1. Did you find any numbers for these statements? Linkedin for example say RB Technology 679 employees and Mclaren Racing 532. But they have Mclaren Technology Group with more than 1000. Budgets for 2016 (if the figures are right) were almost identical, around 450 million euros. Even if you deduct the 100m by Honda they still have enough resources. So I think they should aim for higher but without setting their hopes high from the beginning like they did.

  6. As an Alonso fan I hate to say it but I hope he walks after this season – enough is enough. These last 4 years have been nothing short of torture.
    The top teams have made it clear they want no part of him so what is the point of hanging around battling for top tens.
    Money isn’t a good enough reason to stick around in my mind when he can generate a substantial sum (though it would be a pay cut for sure) in other series.
    I think he is still the most “complete” driver in F1 which makes it hard to accept.
    And F1 will suffer by losing viewers – I for one watch F1 only because of him.
    Just my two cents from a frustrated fan.

    1. Yes, there’s the fact top teams obviously don’t want to give up their top drivers who should be about alonso equals, then this year the number 2 drivers are performing relatively well, talking about bottas and raikkonen, so even less of a reason to replace them.

      Ricciardo is basically a top driver, verstappen was a top driver in 2017 and although he had a terrible first 4 races he might’ve got the hang of it now, so there’s not a substantial improvement by replacing anyone for alonso in any top team.

      He could potentially go to renault but that’s a sidegrade to mclaren, doesn’t change anything, although maybe it has more potential to improve the next years.

      And he could try to go to ferrari if raikkonen leaves next year, but I doubt they’d put vettel vs alonso at ferrari, otherwise I have no trust in mclaren’s potential of improvement, it’s gonna be hard to score a single podium not only this year but even the following ones unless they get it together.

  7. McLaren upgrades aren’t enough to fight with Renault and Haas. Top teams are out of reach. And I don’t feel that McLaren will be capable to slice the gap this year or next year.
    Surely, Alonso was stuck behind the slower racers, but he still lost 1.5 lap to the leaders. And in qualification he was lucky to get to top 10: Sainz was faster than Alonso in Q2. Assuming that Hulk never lost a qualification to Sainz unless the German had issues with his car, Alonso would be 11th at best.
    That’s not the progress I was hoping for. And now I see why Goss was fired: Apparently, he claimed that their chassis was great, but in reality it wasn’t.

    1. I’m not buying it’s all Goss’s fault. You can add aero package & possibly Boullier’s resignation to the list of urgent improvements required.

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