Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2018

Alonso: Hungaroring isn’t a strong track for McLaren any more

2018 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says the strong form McLaren has enjoyed at the Hungaroring in recent years won’t be repeated this weekend.

The team enjoyed the best results of its last three-year association with Honda at the Hungaroring. Each year Alonso was the first driver home behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull cars. However he predicted their current form will not “change too much” at the track this season.

“In previous years I would say yes, Hungary was one of the circuits that we definitely perform a little bit better and we have more chances,” said Alonso. “This year I think the characteristics we saw in our car, Hungary should be problematic, maybe, some of the sectors.”

Alonso said the current car’s performance doesn’t vary as much from circuit to circuit. He expects the team will be roughly as competitive this weekend as they were at the Hockenheimring, where he qualified 11th.

“It’s going to be quite similar. We were in Canada, Paul Ricard, Austria and Silverstone more or less in exactly the same position with the same performance. The circuits were sometimes opposite like Canada and Silverstone, for example.

“So I don’t think we will see like other years a clear difference between a good circuit and a bad circuit. I think it’s going to be always very tight and it will be down to the new parts and the updates that you bring to that specific grand prix.”

However Alonso said the team is bringing a significant upgrade this weekend which could help it move up the order. “I know there’s a bigger package for Hungary so maybe that is the biggest help, more than the layout.”

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Keith Collantine
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40 comments on “Alonso: Hungaroring isn’t a strong track for McLaren any more”

  1. Hakk the rack
    25th July 2018, 12:54

    That was obvious since we know the car (the car, not the engine) is poor.

    1. Yep. Although you’ll find a bunch of McLaren bashers here who will say the chassis was always poor, that is clearly not the case. They were always performing well in Monaco, Hungary and Singapore even during the Honda era.

      It’s really sad to see them being rubbish at almost every circuit this year. It’s like they have no race weekend to look forward to. Even Saubers, Force Indias and Toro Rosso’s have been the best of the midfield on some race weekend this year. The only two teams that are looking consistently bad on every circuit are McLaren and Williams.

      It’s just a depressing time to be an Alonso or a McLaren fan.

      1. Only up from here :)

        (crosses fingers and toes)

      2. @todfod i have been a dedicated McLaren fan my whole life. I am 39 and totally gutted by the shambles inside the team. I used to look forward to watching “my team” , it made me happy. Now it makes me sad. I have watched the mighty McLaren turn into a total disgrace. I can not agree Zak should be anywhere near McLaren. Boullier is gone 😞 if you don’t let a man do his job he will resign. vandoorne was fast in lower categories but I now call him so slow stoffel. I literally do not care what people say about alonso. McLaren would be more foxed without him. As a McLaren fan he is one of the only reasons left to support the team. To make matters worse the team does not seem to give three poos about its fans – just it’s corporate image. Well here is some news McLaren incase you had not noticed: your team is pants, your car is pants, your image is now pants, your organisational structure is pants, your communication is pants, one of your drivers is pants, your focus is pants and we are running out of reasons to support you now the team is a laughing stock. Whilst I fully expect this post to be ripped to shreds by people who have the privilege of supporting successful teams i simply don’t care. McLaren fans are in real pain now. What to look forward too? Nothing on the horizon.

      3. @todfod or a Vandoorne fan, or even both drivers fan as I am.

  2. Adds proof to the story that McLaren indeed had a decent chassis last year but made an absolute dog this year

    1. As a McLaren fan it’s a sad to see them falling back but it will be really interesting to see how quickly they can turn things around. As you say last years chassis seemed to perform well on high downforce circuits.

      Does anyone more knowledgeableable than me know if McLaren has made a fundamental change how the chassis works this year?

      1. Neil (@neilosjames)
        25th July 2018, 14:43

        Does anyone more knowledgeableable than me know if McLaren has made a fundamental change how the chassis works this year?

        Not sure where my knowledge stands (no expert, just interested), but the Honda and Renault power units are laid out and packaged very differently, and switching from Honda to Renault would have required a lot of redesigning around the cooling, rear end, gearbox, general bodywork around the back end. Whether all that disruption is behind their struggles, I have no idea. I tend to believe it is, because it’s the most obvious option, but as I said – I’m no expert.

        1. Right, I feel like last year Honda made a splash about changing their engine design to mirror that of Mercedes, not that it seemed to do a lot of good. I suppose Mclaren fans just have to just have to hope they have a good understanding of where the issues are and have a roadmap of how to catch the Renault works team.

          Having only started following the sport in mid-2015, Do any longer-term fans remember a period in which Mclaren was this uncompetitive?

          1. The most comparable period would probably be 1978 to 1981 inclusive, when McLaren were 8th, 7th, 9th and 6th in the WCC for each of those years – otherwise, it’s rare for them to have been outside of at least the top four for more than a year or two at most.

  3. To be fair, he could have said that about any of the tracks on the calendar.

    1. This. Basically it’s a bad car. But at least the paint job is what the people wanted, eh?

      1. But at least the paint job is what the people wanted, eh?

        Nothing turns fortunes around like a fresh paint of papaya orange

        1. @todfod – Yes! If only the other 9 teams would respect that aesthetic performance advantage and turn the turbos down.

  4. Rain would help…

    1. Looks like there might be quite heavy rain and thunder around quali and race time during the weekend.

      1. @bosyber So was supposed to happen in Hockenheim as well, but it didn’t occur precisely when it was initially forecasted to arrive, so, therefore, it’s always better to not read too much into the forecasts unless it’s Bahrain or Abu Dhabi (or Singapore for most of the time).

        1. Yes, I was very happy that some rain actually came in an important session for once this year, but in the end it was too short, too little, in the end we got some real rain just after the race ended, and if you look at some fp in hockenheim, paul ricard and melbourne this year, THAT is the kind of rain I’d like to see in qualifying or race or both!

  5. McLaren performed a lot better at Monaco than their average. Not sure why this suddenly wouldn’t translate (at least to some degree) to Hungaroring.

  6. Listening to all of Fernando’s radio communication during the German GP was like watching a track wreck in slow motion. Not only does Mclaren have a pathetic car, their pitwall was absolutely atrocious last weekend. They havent really made many inspired calls this year either.

    I’m not convinced by Mclaren’s re-structuring, because I still don’t know who is ultimately responsible for the team’s performance, is it De Ferran? Is it Brown? Stella?. I dont think even they know! I never thought I’d say this, but during Martin Whitmarsh’s reign, many of us bagged him for not being strong enough (in comparison to Ron obviously). In hindsight (always 20/20), it seems like he was streets ahead of the current management, which seems to be always caught heading for a wall at 200 mph!

    1. They are just not moving on with the times.

      Also poor car can make your strategy look bad.

      We’ll see next year.

      But on the face of it, they look like a big organisation that is doing things like they always have, meanwhile everyone moved on.

      It will be interesting to see how Mercedes respond to losing. Right now Ferrari is closer and closer to them as an organisation, and Red Bull is hot in pursuit.

      Maybe in 10 years they will be the new McLaren.

      Meanwhile old teams tend to struggle. Who ever wants to win these days needs to have odds stacked in they favour. McLaren has one top driver, and that is the only top thing they have.

  7. Each year Alonso was the first driver home behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull cars

    Verstappen, in a Toro Rosso, finished one place ahead(4th) of Alonso in 2015.

  8. He’d probably have a better chance with the Honda engine.

    Alonso can’t blame anyone for that though. He backed the team into a corner threatening to walk out if they stayed with Honda.

    I think Alonso should decide whether he want to drive sports cars or F1.

    He can’t be focusing properly on F1 and getting the most of the car.

    Probably doesn’t matter so much with LMP1 because it’s a one-team, two car championship. Plus Toyota are ensuring that he becomes champion.

    1. He’d probably have a better chance with the Honda engine.

      I don’t think you got the gist of it. Their chassis is terrible this year. The engine isn’t responsible for their deficit. They will only go slower with a Honda engine in the back.

      1. @todfod But as we know though, it is not just chassis and engine anymore. It is chassis and power unit in a cohesive package, merged together. We know the Renault pu is behind the Mercedes and Ferrari ones via the long standing relationship with RBR. RBR is showing the maximum that the Renault Pu can do in an optimal merger with a chassis.

        For me it is not a question of a bad chassis at Mac this year, but moreso a Renault Pu that is lagging, and a brand new marriage and learning curve for Mac in integrating Pu and chassis.

      2. Last year, McLaren placed all the blame for their poor performances on Honda.

        I believe the McLaren was often talking about how they had the best chassis on the grid. Would be up there with Red Bull with a Renault engine.

        So after slandering Honda for a couple of season and blaming all their woes on them, McLaren finally get a Renault engine and are even worse. Getting beaten at times by Toro Rossos with Hondas in the back of them.

        Can’t take anything McLaren say seriously. Absolute shambles.

        1. @anon I think that is too strong a criticism. Last year was year three with Honda and still they were nowhere. Can you blame them for blaming Honda? Did they really ‘often’ talk about having the best chassis, or were a few quotes spun and spun over impteen articles and weeks and months? And should they not be allowed time to gel in this most complex format of F1 ever, half a season into this new marriage? They have indeed already improved in a half a season with Renault after three seasons with Honda, so it is not ‘even worse.’ The shambles was Honda taking this long and still lagging. Nobody predicted this upon the announcement of Honda’s return to F1. It has set them back big time, but now they have a half a season so far of trying to right the ship and will continue to do so. I’m willing to bet they’ll make a significant stride for next year.

        2. Their poor chassis this year doesn’t justify in anyway the problems they faced during the Honda era. In fact, I’m tired of people saying that because their 2018 chassis is so bad, they had a bad chassis during the Honda era as well. It is a fact that they performed well on chassis dependent circuits from 2015 to 2017. While their chassis might not have been the best in the field, it was definitely comparable to that of the top 3.

          Just because they dropped the ball on chassis for 2018 doesn’t mean that Honda wasn’t responsible for their failures for the 3 seasons prior to it.

    2. He would DNF in many more races with Honda. And now comes a lot more penalties for Honda. Mclaren tried Honda 3 years. Something went completely wrong this year with the car also.

    3. @anon Your second sentence…is that a fact? Doubt it. Your third and fourth sentences…sure he can do both and he is. If the car was a winner or anywhere near the top three I bet he would have only done the 24 hours and left the rest of his time for F1. As it is, he could spend all his time and energy at Mac and it would not make that much more difference in his or the teams standings.

    4. He needs to move over to IndyCar full time while he is still physically capable of competitively driving open-wheelers.

      The Triple Crown is a rare achievement that he is capable of attaining.

      At the very least, being competitive in IndyCar will heal his reputation. Because unfortunately his legacy is going to one of disappointment and not reaching his full potential. Being a double world champion doesn’t have the same cachet on the grid these days when there are two four time champions. He is likely to be remembered like Jacques Villeneuve, who hung around way too long after his championship.

      1. @davids I think even achieving one WDC in F1 puts a driver in a very unique and elite group in the annals of motor car racing. Not sure if you are a big fan of F1, but you are doing it a disservice by reducing Champions to their numbers of them achieved. FA’s legacy one of disappointment? No way.

      2. I think he’s a great driver, but he had his chances in 2007, 2010 and 2012 but blew it.

        2007 he let a young kid get inside his head.

        2010, he and Webber were in the box seat to win the championship in the final race, but Vettel as the long shot outsider seized the title. Vettel in fact had some stunning drives late in 2010. When the pressure was highest Vettel was the best in 2010. Webber and Alonso both choked.

        2012 was a season where 7 different drivers won the first 7 races. Alonso again was poor late in the season. In Abu Dhabi let Kim in a Lotus beat him (Ferrari was the better car), outqualified by his teammate in Brazil, Texas.

        Yes, didn’t get dominant cars like the Red Bull in 2011 and second half of 2013 (or Mercedes 2014-17 which was on another planet to the Red Bull of 2011), but at the same time when he had cars good enough to win the championship with in 2010 and 2012 he failed to get the most out of the machinery in the most important races.

        If we want to start handing out championships for second places and moral victories, then I think Schumacher deserves championships from 1997-99, plus he was clearly the best driver on the grid in 1996.

        I don’t think a “triple crown” actually means anything to anyone but Alonso. LMP1 and Indycar are second-rate series. The talent level of GP2 is higher than those series.

        1. MG (@itiswhatitisnt)
          26th July 2018, 16:54

          2007 he tied in points with LH.
          2010 Ferrari made a horrible pit call that cost Alonso’s race
          2012 Grosjean crashed into Alonso at the first turn. Kimi also punctured Alonso’s rear tire at Suzuka. Chances? Not likely at all.

          1. MG (@itiswhatitisnt)
            26th July 2018, 16:57

            Grosjean crash was at Spa. Those 2 DNF’s cost him tons of points and only lost to Vettel by that year by 3 points.

          2. 2012 Vettel was robbed of victory when his car failed while leading.

            Alonso beats Kimi (in the inferior Lotus) in Abu Dhabi he wins the championship. Couldn’t get it done. Got a samurai tattoo on his back instead.

    5. I keep thinking that the engine switch was the best gift they could do to themselves.

  9. Alonso has a great career in stand up any time he wants it. He has taken the all time dry sarcasm title for F1.

    1. MG (@itiswhatitisnt)
      26th July 2018, 16:58

      Sarcasm? Link ?

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