Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2018

Vandoorne’s McLaren has less downforce, Alonso confirms

2018 German Grand Prix

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Having taken what he has called a “little pole for the midfield” in P11, Fernando Alonso has said teammate Stoffel Vandoorne’s car has clear issues and lacks downforce compared to his.

The two McLarens qualified almost a second apart, with Vandoorne eliminated with the slowest time in Q1 – after being out-qualified by Alonso at every race this season.

Asked whether there was anything he could see that separated the cars, Alonso said Vandoorne was “doing what he can” given obvious issues and a ‘clear’ downforce difference between the two cars.

“I think he’s doing what he can. Definitely the last two races, it’s seemed that that car has some kind of performance issue and it’s clear in the data that there’s less downforce on that car.”

Alonso said that despite part-switching, the root of the differences didn’t seem to be clear –

“We’ve been changing some parts between the garages, between old parts, new parts, etc. and we need to go deep into that investigation because with both cars close to the points it’s always tight competition.”

In terms of performance, he said that small updates were only maintaining McLaren’s position, despite his own improved qualifying at Hockenheim. “We’ve averaged P13 in qualifying and today without Hamilton’s issue and Ricciardo’s issues, we were P13 so more or less the same.

“On Sundays we normally score some points and we are alive because of that – in the constructor’s championship and the drivers’ championship. The car is getting better, the new parts are improving the performance but everyone is doing small steps every race so we keep more or less the same gap with opponents.”

Both Hamilton, who suffered a hydraulic failure during Q1 and Ricciardo, who is hit with power unit penalties this weekend, will start behind Alonso in P14 and 15 respectively.

Asked if he was looking forward to the chance to fight with the top end of the grid he dismissed the possibility of a real battle between the cars –

“I think that will not be too difficult, unfortunately, for them. They have the pace… I will fight and I will put my best effort but I will be surprised if I keep them behind.”

Alonso qualified P11 at the German Grand Prix, with teammate Vandoorne P20.

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30 comments on “Vandoorne’s McLaren has less downforce, Alonso confirms”

  1. So McLaren can’t even make two cars the same? For how long is this happening? Stoffel’s performances have been appauling, but if he can’t even have the luxury of sharong the same machinery as his teammate…

    Little pole goes for Magnussen I reckon

    1. Well, considering what happened the last time a teammate got near to beating Alonso, maybe his teams have since agreed to remove some downforce from his teammates? saves the trouble…

    2. Or a freddo wrapper got stuck in the mould when manufacturing Stoffs chassis

      1. That’s what you get for rewarding your employees before they actually finish their jobs

  2. So McLaren can’t even make two cars the same? For how long is this happening? Stoffel’s performances have been appauling, but if he can’t even have the luxury of sharong the same machinery as his teammate…

    Little pole goes for Magnussen I reckon

    1. Alonso says at least two races; worth noting most teams run slightly different cars (Sainz and Hulkenberg often test different parts at Renault) but it is extremely troubling if they don’t actually know why one of the cars has less downforce relative to the other.

      1. Totally agree with both of you @johnmilk and @hazelsouthwell , it’s not there is a difference, it’s that they don’t know why it exists.

      2. Yeah @hazelsouthwell, that latter bit is indeed the enlightening, and worrying aspect of this. I think it is good Alonso said it, at least now we know why they have been so far apart these last two races, and perhaps also good it gets a light shined (shone?) upon it, but to me it really seems indicative of the large problem McLaren have.

      3. And it’s not like the difference is small. It must be costing Vandoorne at least 4 tenths, going by his previous performances. Even a mangled front wing would make him lose less time.

      4. Exactly, but one thing is to have different specs on purpose and know how they work, another is to have one car supposedly the same to the other and not know why it doesn’t work properly

      5. I don’t believe in this unexplainable downforce difference (at least I’m fairly sure the top at McLaren DO know the reason, or else they better close their doors for good!).
        Of course, the car of Stoffel is less good: All the better performing parts go to Alo, which is completely normal. Half a percent here, a quarter pct there… the sum is what it is. Offset to be matched by increasing drag inducing wing-angles.
        Alonso said what he said because he probably knows Stoffel is/has been screwed over and is on his way out @ McL (2019). If that should happen, Fernando will try to help Stoffel, a driver without a bag of money, and who carried a lot of water for Fernando, into another team. A bit of praise can help a lot, and might help to keep Stoffels mouth shut.
        McLaren is doing everything to keep Alonso on board, and they’re slowly losing the last leverage.
        One thing they can do to keep Alonso on board is to give Alo a choice over the N°2 driver:
        I expect, more or less the following scenario:
        Lineup with the big three stays the same, Sauber might switch Leclerc with Kimi, and they keep the money from Ericson or Giovinazi gets on board. Stroll wants out of Williams, and his daddies dollars is enough to buy at least 51% of Force India. Williams needs dollars, Haas has at least one driver too much, or need an extra seat
        Renault wants at least one French driver in their lineup and Sainz is a long term problem for them.
        Sainz won’t return to TorroRosso, so where can he go?
        If Sainz has to leave Renault, maybe a bit of help from Fernando could get him into a McLaren. What are friends for, U.C… And Brown did say: “Carlos Sainz is a great driver and we could be interested in him.”
        So the seats available to Stoffel are close to none, hence the cheap support from Alonso…

        Am I in need of a tin-foil hat? Maybe. Time will tell

        1. George, I think you´re saying that next season´s lineup will be:
          Merc: HAM/BOT
          And VAN gets to go somewhere with ALO´s help.
          Is that right?

          1. Close enough…
            I’m not sure Kimi will be replaced, and Leclerc might stay with Sauber, or go to Haas instead to get a different perspective on setup inside a smaller team with a car even closer to the real Ferrari, but without the pressure…
            Perez might, or might not be retained. Stroll will decide on his own logix.
            But what is important in the case of McLaren and Stoffel is the remaining question marks on your table:
            Toro Rosso might pick a fresh driver,
            Williams needs dollars/euro’s/pounds (which Stoffel doesn’t have)
            So, Vandoorne probably loses his seat, due to no fault of his own, other than being too nice…

  3. Big shock, a Fernando’s teammate running with an underleveled car…

    1. @niefer – there have always been rumours and comments that Alonso runs better parts, or has had cars designed to his liking, but for him to come out and say this implies it is not favouritism towards him that is affecting Stoffel. It does paint a poor picture of McLaren’s technical abilities, though, if they’re struggling like Williams to get a handle on their car.

      1. @phylyp
        Fair point. Actually, maybe this is the first time I don’t blame Alonso at all on that matter, because it seems clear to me that whatever is happening, it is just an outcome of McLaren’s despair of making his life easier, whilst Fernando’s posture is a bit different from past seasons.

        However, even that Stoffel isn’t performing how we all expected, I believe that situation takes away a chunk of his confidence. It’s like starting always at the wrong foot. It is a shame though, because he’s starting to appear “disposable”.

        1. Unfortunately for Stoffel, I suspect McLaren will blame him for his consistently being by Fernando, which is unfair because there’s a problem with Stoffel’s car.
          I do wonder if there’s something wrong with the chassis.

          1. I would be astounded if Stoffel doesn’t get another year.
            It’s obvious McLaren is failing him badly. He is a well respected driver.

  4. “Having taken what he has called a “little pole for the midfield” in P11”… I didn’t read any further. What the f… is he talking about? As if his P11 is better than Magnussen’s P5? Hello Alonso, Earth is calling.

    1. His logic is that being the first car on the grid that gets to start on new tyres, having chosen the compound for the race rather than Q2, is a big advantage in reaching and then staying in the points. But yes I think a big bit of classic Fernando Hyperbole is definitely being employed….

    2. Ha ha 😊

  5. Alonso says they’ve swapped parts between the cars and the problem still exists, indicating a chassis issue of some kind. They should switch cars to establish a chassis problem.

    1. Good idea, they could do that for part of FP1. Although an engine component failure at that time will cause a bit of confusion!

    2. While there’s merit with that idea, if they don’t know what’s wrong with the car then in swapping the chassis’s they might end up with two equally underperforming cars instead of one.

    3. Johan Tolemans
      21st July 2018, 22:33

      The fact they don’t and won’t will point to
      a. Stoffel having been written off and a replacement having been chosen
      b. No more interest by shareholders to invest too much into this year
      c. A level of shambles that makes it very likely they will be in exactly the same spot with Mclaren in 2019
      I like Macca, but Alonso’s career choices, compared to say Hamilton, have been dismal. And now Mclaren seems to be following his lead. There is a fine line between (triple) crown and clown…

  6. I am so fed up with Alonso.
    It’s so apparent he is sabotaging VAN’s season and career in general. He has put Brown and DeFerren up to this.
    It’s obvious Brown and De Ferren are willing to do anything to keep Alonso including purposely giving VAN a car that is undrivable even if it means sacrificing critical data to solve their issues.
    And to what end?
    ALO is and has always been overrated. HAM beat him in his rookie year. Alonso fans argue they were tied in points but HAM but was a rookie!
    His 2 WDCs against Schuey were luck – only because he had better tires.
    He ruined McLaren forever when he squealed on Dennis for the Ferrari scandal. If he wouldn’t have done that they wouldn’t have been caught and McLaren would be fighting with the front runners instead of top tens.
    LeMans was another joke. No competition. He drove at night and put in some good laps but he wasn’t the driver at the end.
    This guy is lucky to have a seat in F1. He should be banished!

    1. Do you really think he would go out and say that there’s a problem with Vandoornes car if that was the case?

      1. Johan Tolemans
        21st July 2018, 22:24

        He was asked during the press moment why the gap was so big. Even Alonso could not bring himself to state it was down to his godlike skills as the gap is silly big. I’m not his biggest fan but he seems to have a level he will not sink below. Then again these unfortunate mishaps with the car only started after Monaco, where Stoffel came too close for comfort…

  7. lol @ Luke … first post in a long time that has made have a good belly laugh. You have done very well indeed to get sarcasm into every line of your post :)

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