Fernando Alonso, Charles Leclerc, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

McLaren “still lacking straight-line speed” – Alonso

2018 Spanish Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso admits straight-line speed remains a weakness for McLaren after the difficulties he faced overtaking in the Spanish Grand Prix.

McLaren switched from Honda to Renault engines during the off-season. Alonso said the difficulty he had passing Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari-engined Sauber shows the team is still weaker than its rivals on the straights.

“I was half of the race behind Leclerc and definitely it was difficult,” said Alonso after the race. “We are still lacking some straight-line speed to be able to overtake so it’s something we are working on. We know our weakness on the car and hopefully we find solutions quite soon.”

All six Renault-powered cars were slowest in the speed trap during qualifying. McLaren were last among them aside from Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, which had a technical problem. The French manufacturer is due to introduce a performance upgrade at the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

Alonso believes the team is on the right path with the upgrades it introduced last weekend. He said it is down to them to close the gap to fellow Renault users Red Bull.

“It’s not like in the past that we need to mix a lot of things to get it right. We were missing reliability, we were missing race pace, sometimes deployment, sometimes aero, sometimes mechanical grip. There were many things to fix.

“Now we know that on the power unit side we have the same engines as Red Bull so it’s all on us, on the chassis development, to close that gap. We are motivated to do that.

“We are, I think, on the right direction, The new package is delivering what we expect from it. That’s always a good boost of confidence for everyone in the factory for all the plans we have in the next races.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 23 comments on “McLaren “still lacking straight-line speed” – Alonso”

    1. We were missing reliability, we were missing race pace, sometimes deployment, sometimes aero, sometimes mechanical grip

      I don’t remember a single time during the Honda era where McLaren or Alonso said that their aero or mechanical grip was a problem. Each and every problem was on the engine. Now suddenly, he is changing his tune regarding the previous 3 years

      1. He’s not talking about the past three years. This year they have a benchmark and can see where they need improvement. The last three years they couldn’t even get far enough to worry about their lack of race pace.

      2. And essentially missing everything?! Reliability, race pace, energy deployment, aero, mechanical grip… What’s left?! Quali pace…???

      3. When you have a dog of an engine, you can hardly see if your top speed is influenced by your chassis because you don’t have the power anyway. Now he has the same engine and the car is still slower, so yeah.

      4. @colinchapman @eljueta – but despite the poor engine, last year he was somehow able to proclaim they had the best chassis?

        I’m with Sumedh on this, its a bit amusing to see how the tune changes.

        That said, yes, now that they’ve got a Renault PU, it will be interesting to see how well they can develop and evolve the car over the reason, with both Red Bull and Renault as points of comparison.

        1. @phylyp I’m more inclined to think that he thought the honda was worse than it actually was. Not saying he doesn’t talk a lot, but It’s easier to compare now than last year.

        2. @eljueta – fair enough. Absence of other Honda customers last year would have definitely denied them a point of reference.

          1. I also believe that last years chassis was better. Maybe not the best but I think they lost a bit of what they had going for them when they switched over to Renault.

            1. i saw it mentioned that mclaren are currently using the renault pu stock cooling solution which is supposedly particularly draggy whilst they design their own solution like redbull and renault. I imagine if true that’s where a lot of their drag issue is coming from and solving that should be half of the second they are away from redbull which considering the redbull is the best chassis on the grid is really not too shabby.

          2. They have plenty of data on the drag, df, and aero efficiency of the car. They don’t measure those things by looking at the speedometer.

    2. Maybee it’s their GP2 drivers?

      One thing is sure. Alonso talk to much.

      1. He’s contractually obligated to

      2. and he is being constantly asked about it

      3. He (Kimoa) is one of the sponsors of McLaren. So he can do as he pleases.

      4. Totally talking no sense.

    3. If they solve all the issue by the end of the year, then Fernando can be proud of the car he hands over to the next driver.
      Probably the most expensive development driver in history :(

      1. @coldfly Highly doubt he was signed as a development driver. To be perfectly honest, without him McLaren would be much worse off. Just imagine two Vandoornes driving over the past 1.5 years.

        1. McLaren gets a lot of attention because of alonso. They are a sort of team that everyone always have high hopes for but always fails to deliver. It’s sad that Alonso stays here when he should have been the other mercedes driver.

    4. I think the switch to Renault has proven to be the right decision for Mclaren. Their position in the constructors justifies this. Sure, you can say they were lucky in some races, but hey, last season they weren’t even completing the formation lap on some occasion, let alone finish the race!

      With Red Bull as the benchmark, Mclaren now know what to shoot for. This makes a huge difference for their chassis development.

      1. Agree. They’re heck of a lot better than Alonso getting out of the car and pushing it back to the pits. Still, the benchmark of Red Bull is a pretty intimidating one for them. They’re still 1 to 1.2 seconds a lap slower than Red Bull and anywhere between 10 to 12kmh slower on the straights as well.

        They’ve got a lot of work to do.

      2. agreed!

        people talk a lot about McLaren’s lack of pace last season and again this year to say ‘see, it was them that were rubish, not Honda!’, but I feel more than the lack of power, it was the abysmal reliability of the Honda PU that convinced McLaren to take a gamble with Renault. and, considering their position on the championship right now, I would say it was a gamble that paid off…

        1. @arrows98
          Maybe in points it has payed off but they can no longer say they have the best chassis on the grid. They are exposed as a lower mid team now.

          1. Their’re not saying they have the best chassis for a while.
            McLaren had 3 years of dnf’s, dns’ and more than 30 grid penalties at a single race, and often. They certainly started a public war towards Honda and exaggerated on their quality to expose Honda’s flaws.
            If one don’t like McLaren talks regarding Honda, fair enough. But one can’t deny they’ve improved their game since last season and they also had to accommodate Renault engine on a car that wasn’t designed to it.

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