MONTMELO, Spain — In expressing his optimism about McLaren’s 2018 season, Fernando Alonso couldn’t resist taking one last swipe at the team’s former engine partner Honda.
Since joining McLaren in 2015, Alonso has spent three years struggling for results due to poor reliability and a lack of performance. By September last year McLaren announced it was splitting with Honda and that it planned to take a supply of Renault engines in 2018 with the aim of returning to the front of the grid.
Despite losing track time due to a wheelnut failure on the first day of 2018 testing on Monday, Alonso completed 48 laps at the wheel of the new Renault-powered McLaren. He was positive about the performance of the car and said having an engine without reliability issues was a huge bonus.
“What I don’t have is any reason to believe we are not going to be competitive,” Alonso said. “McLaren is, if not the best, one of the best teams in this sport — not lately, but in history. Therefore, seeing the chassis we had last year, I see no reason why we wouldn’t be competitive this year.
“We have an engine that is not an experiment. It’s a new engine that we have to open up and see what we find out. It’s an evolution from last year and has already won races.
“Plus, there are two other teams with the same engine, so if we have an issue, there are many people trying to solve and many tests that each team can make to try to find a solution that is positive for everyone. So when I put it all in the mix, I see no reason why things would go badly.”
Asked if he was comparing McLaren’s early form to the Renault works team and the Renault-powered Red Bulls, Alonso added: “Not really, not today, but we will do it at the end of every week we will see how many laps they did and what was the pace and consistency. It is difficult to know about fuel loads etc and what they are doing at different times but there will be a benchmark there and something to look at.
“Even this morning when we had an issue with the car and we lost two hours but there were other guys with our engine running so any information or driveability issues or deployment issues they will face the same and find a solution so maybe when you go back to the car you have the solution already thanks to them so it is a very good position to be in and helpful.”