Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Silverstone, 2018

Friday F1 ‘tests’ not compromising McLaren’s performance – Alonso

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso says McLaren is not compromising its performance in Formula 1 race weekends by using Fridays as test sessions for its problematic MCL33 chassis.

What they say

Alonso said the team’s test work on Fridays wasn’t having a big affect on their race weekend performance:

I don’t think this is a big factor.

Definitely it affects some Fridays as in Austria I think we were P19 in FP2 because we’re still recovering time from FP1. We dedicate a little bit more the Fridays for a pure test session that a performance tuning, that we normally do on Saturdays.

But I don’t think we arrive to qualifying or races not prepared enough. I don’t think this is a big impact.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Will Ricciardo stay at Red Bull out of loyalty, because he believes Honda is the right choice – or because he has no alternatives?

I think it’s the lack of alternatives that will tip the scales. Neither Mercedes nor Ferrari seem too keen on hiring a driver who could immediately pose a lasting threat to their current leading drivers. And even if Red Bull does take a nosedive with Honda hardware (as for ‘Honda’s power unit appears to be on a par with it’ – that’s according to Horner, and Horner only – the comparison between McLaren’s and Toro Rosso’s season-to-season form swings doesn’t back up his claim in the slightest…) there is no serious challenger in sight who could become the third team in Formula 1.

Renault and McLaren look increasingly likely to remain in ‘Formula 1.5’ and they’re the midfielders with the greatest potential for growth. They might get overtaken by Haas or Force India if they get it wrong over the winter, but no one is seriously expecting them to get in the mix at the front. Therefore, even if Red Bull lose the same big chunk of competitiveness as Toro Rosso did, they’re still likely to stay third.

This leaves Ricciardo with the choice between rage-quitting and hoping to achieve a reverse Alonso, or grudgingly staying with Red Bull.

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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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31 comments on “Friday F1 ‘tests’ not compromising McLaren’s performance – Alonso”

  1. Excellent analysis from Mark Hughes with the unintended consequence of highlighting all that is wrong with F1 as it is today, might as well be a board game if all that tyre wear versus fuel use multiplied by over/undercut, racing line rubbering in while off-line rubbers out, factoring in the bookies odds on a safety car is your primary interest.

    1. If the safety car were new now it would not be accepted by people here due to how artificial it is,

      1. Yes, well maybe, I can remember wishing (c.1990) all tracks were as quick as Monaco, (where there seemed to be a crane every 100m.) at removing cars from the track. I prefer uninterrupted racing.

  2. Is there a real competition for spots in the calendar?
    Beside the european classics most venues come and go.
    British and german gps appear to have problems to secure deals.
    I dont see such a competition between the venues.
    If pressed, maybe they would let their contracts expire and get into the end of the queue for the next five years.
    Dropping further classics might hurt f1 more.

    1. There has always been tremendous competition between venues to host races; that’s the sole reason they pay these astronomic amounts to be a ‘lucky one’.

    2. I like the idea of cutting the calendar. 16 races always felt like the ideal number (this was fairly constant through the 80s and 90s) in terms of the season not getting too long, not too many double-headers, but still enough time for the title race to develop and change.

      I would propose keeping a core of venues, which could be edited every 5/10 years, which would comprise monza, monaco, silverstone, spa, suzuka, interlagos, plus a few other venues (perhaps COTA, melbourne, paul ricard, mexico city – barcelona, hungaroring, perhaps, season to taste). then you would have 6 venues which alternate each year, such as the races struggling to keep it up annually (hockenheim), or ensuring there is a middle-eastern race but sharing it out over the years.

      the sense of occasion would always be there for the perennials (they’re classics for a reason) and Liberty could create some kind of one-off, festival occasion for the irregulars. I don’t really believe that squeezing the calendar will make the races work harder to entertain (market forces don’t every seem to work in these contexts), but it might increase the local excitement/engagement, and reducing the calendar has other benefits too (namely cost reduction).

      1. Sonny Crocket
        17th July 2018, 12:05

        What? Why would you want less F1?!

        1. Quality vs quantity

  3. I’m perfectly fine with the range of 19-21, in which the number of races has varied during this decade so far.
    – The COTD has an interesting point.
    – BTW, it hasn’t been five years since the death of Bianchi yet. Still, two more to go before it will have been five years since that.

  4. The problem with Abiteboul’s idea is that if the F1 calendar was substantially reduced, and the race organizers bid up the price of hosting rights, which tracks do you think would lose out? It wouldn’t be Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Russia, or Azerbaijan. It would be Silverstone, Monza, maybe Australia, and probably COTA. Losing some of the most popular circuits would be a blow to the sport’s popularity, reducing audience numbers and driving down TV rights & streaming revenue. Sponsors would leave or demand reduced rates. And as the sport went downhill, it wouldn’t be long before even the big-spending petro-states and kleptocracies would become less willing to shell out the big bucks for hosting a sport with diminished popularity and prestige.

    Look, I understand that having >20 races in a year is a huge logistical challenge for the teams, and it’s especially difficult for Abiteboul, trying to run a works team on a less-than-fully-committed works team budget. But this isn’t the solution.

    1. Agreed. All the traditional tracks would go out first which would be bad.

      1. Unfortunately true. I (old guy that I am) recall the old days when there was an F1 race every two weeks, regular as clockwork. The schedule was set and you could count on it; great stuff. Now the owners of F1 need to pay the piper each and every year. They bought about $5 billion ($1000 million) of debt when they bought the show from Bernie. They have to service that debt, so any reduction in the number of races, no matter how great that would be for we fans, is not financially possible. I suspect we are in a death spiral here. Too bad.

        1. I have always thought that, in the modern context, 18-20 races is best. I think 21 makes things a little too crowded and talk of 23-25 is just a bad idea in cost terms.

          I don’t think it’s a given that the price of hosting rights for long standing circuits would have to increase. They could be protected and circuits wishing to join the calendar be charged a little more.

          Perhaps prize money for the top teams could be restricted or the pot distributed more evenly so that the quality of the racing spectacle improves. Teams could also save money if there was a cost reduction in taking part.

  5. I didn’t see Daniel as driver that have a tendency to disrupt a team harmony.

    Maybe we all rate Daniel too high? Merc & Ferrari might have detail data that show Daniel would not exceed their current 2nd drivers. If Daniel really that great, no way they pass that opportunity…

    1. ” If Daniel really that great, no way they pass that opportunity…”

      Exactlly. But what could a guy achieve in his shoes to prove greatness?

      I think atleast Ferrari must be tempted.

    2. WARNING: Long-ish post ahead.

      @ruliemaulana I don’t believe that’s the reason, but there are several factors at play.

      Firstly, Ricciardo’s salary will be likely be higher than that of Leclerc or Bottas (probably even Kimi as well) and Mercedes and Ferrari both have their main drivers on new, expensive contracts. And they may be the richest teams in the sport, but even they need to have budgetary considerations when it comes to driver’s salary, as they would probably prefer allocating that to the development of the car.

      Secondly, Mercedes haven’t really found much of a reason to drop Bottas. He has been performing to a decent standard, and it would be really surprising to see them drop a driver after the season he has just had. Let’s not forget he is/was managed by Toto Wolff, so Wolff is likely to have some loyalty towards him.

      Thirdly, the teams’ driver academies are another reason. Both Mercedes and Ferrari seem keen on finally promoting someone from their academy, and in Charles Leclerc especially, Ferrari have already got one of the best young drivers in motorsport. Bringing Ricciardo in would really be a blow to Leclerc, because with Vettel at 31 and Ricciardo at 29, there is no immediate path to the first team for him for the next 3 years at a minimum. And I don’t think Ferrari want that situation. They already have Vettel as their main leader, so why not put in one of their own, promising young talents to develop alongside him and be ready to take over when the time comes (or perhaps even lead their title charge in the next few seasons, who knows?). It is somewhat similar to Mercedes, except that Mercedes have Esteban Ocon in their ranks, who they seem to rate very highly, and it was reported some time ago that he was the only one they were considering for that second seat.

      Lastly, at the end of the day, I think we can generally agree that he isn’t the fastest Red Bull driver on pure pace. And that would definitely have come into the calculations, as Ferrari and Mercedes might be too proud to sign their opponent’s 2nd quickest driver. I believe this was the case as well when people kept recommending Carlos Sainz Jr. for both the Mercedes and the Ferrari seats; they wouldn’t ever sign a Red Bull first team “reject” if you will.

      1. with Vettel at 31 and Ricciardo at 29

        @mashiat – I didn’t realize the age gap was this small! Now I can better understand Ricciardo’s urgency to land a championship winning/contending seat – when Vettel was Ricciardo’s current age, Vettel had already clocked 4 WDCs, had an off season being eclipsed by his teammate (ahem!), and changed teams.

        1. They literally both just turned those ages…DR on July 1, SV 2 days later.

      2. @mashiat – also, nice comment, failed to add this in mine above.

      3. @mashiat I love long reply…
        I think you just agree with me that Daniel is not so far above Charles or Valtteri that could tempt Merc/Ferrari to approach him while he was no where to go and out of contract (should be a good bargaining position for salary offer).
        If Red Bull also playing ‘we’ll just take Carlos back’ card on Daniel salary negotiation, he’s in the worst place to demand anything…

      4. I enjoyed reading that. Thanks, @mashiat.

      5. I fear that Dan’s chance is slowly slipping away, if it already hasn’t. If the rumours about the agreement with Ferrari were true, it would mean that they were seriously considering signing him.

        As good as Leclerc is proving to be, as we know, Ferrari don’t put young drivers into their cars. From a marketability standpoint, Dan will be a dream, but I suspect Seb will have something to say about it as well. So it will probably be status quo at Ferrari, Merc and Red Bull..unless Hamilton quits of course, which is highly unlikely.

        1. @jaymenon10 You are right in that Ferrari don’t historically sign inexperienced drivers, but there have been signs recently that they are now more open-minded towards employing young drivers, especially ones they are familar with (whether they have driven for them previously or is currently enrolled in their academy). Massa was promoted alongside Schumacher in 2006 despite having only 3 years experience under his belt, but Ferrari knew him well from his year of being a test driver for them in 2003. More recently, had the very same Felipe Massa not had a resurgence in form at the end of 2012, and Hamilton not jumped ship to Mercedes, there would likely be a very good chance that Sergio Perez, a Ferrari academy product, would be in the second seat for 2013 and beyond. He had only 2 years experience at that point. Even more recently, they wanted to hire Bottas for 2016, who also had 3 years under his belt in F1. They had also developed a pathway for Bianchi into the first team: 2 years at Marussia, a few years at Sauber (maybe just 1), then a shot at the first team. So I believe that Ferrari would be willing to sign an inexperienced driver like Charles Leclerc, especially given that he has demonstrated a maturity that belies his years. If not for 2019, then almost certainly for 2020.

          1. There is also a marketing aspect to consider here as well. Kimi, albeit his obvious aversion to PR stuff, is a very popular figure, this is important to Ferrari, which is one of the primary reasons he’s been kept around. That and the fact that he’s pretty quick when he feels like it and generally doesnt complain.

            At the risk of contradicting one’s self, you have to remember that the Ferrari of today is very different from the Ferrari of 2006. They a publicly traded entity and is run by a auto industry captain who is a businessman above anything else. The driver that eventually ends up in seat #2 at Ferrari will not only need to be quick, but also marketable. Since Dan is too much of a “rooster”, Kimi is the obvious choice for 19. Leclerc may be ready in 20.

  6. Re the COTD

    Dan has made it clear he wants to be in a car that’s capable of winning a WDC so his options were already limited.
    Given that Ferrari and Mercedes seem to be unavailable to him and the fact that Mclaren is floundering and Renault (who I thought would snap him up) don’t seem to have the necessary commitment/management/budget I’d agree that the most likely result will be he’ll be staying at RBR.

    One can only hope for his sake that he gets a decent car with a more than decent PU next year.

    1. Like Honda will be on top level next year.

      Riciardo needs Ferrari drive.

  7. as for ‘Honda’s power unit appears to be on a par with it’ – that’s according to Horner, and Horner only – the comparison between McLaren’s and Toro Rosso’s season-to-season form swings doesn’t back up his claim in the slightest…

    Just check the ‘season-to-season form swings’ in the Lap Time Watch articles and you’ll see that during the last races STR has shown more progress than MCL! It seems very reasonable to conclude (c.p.) that Honda is now on par with Renault; they might even be closer for a lot longer than we all thought.
    And why not trust the guy who can see the detailed data from both P.U.s; I don’t think he is a fool who discredits his own intelligence people and blindly believes his adversary.

  8. Friday tests don’t harm Alonso’s race? Of course not: Most of this is done by Stoffel, and the guy with 18 years of experience doesn’t need every lap to sort his setup issues. Even then, his results this year are not what you would expect from the most experienced driver in the field

    1. Are you kidding?

      1. Nope, I’m dead serious, and/or a bit sarcastic on everything Alo said during the last years…
        Of course, he doesn’t leave anything on the table, on saturdays and seldom on sundays.
        I didn’t say the lack of results are his fault, did I?
        But when some blame the Williams results and car evolution on their driver line-up, I dare say: “look at McLaren”

  9. Nice trainers, Ross.

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