McLaren 'should be last', says Fernando Alonso despite promising Australian GP showing

Sean Gibson
Fernando Alonso knows he faces an uphill task once again this season in the McLaren-Honda - AP

Fernando Alonso has not altered his bleak outlook on McLaren-Honda's performance levels, despite almost snatching a surprise point at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Spanish two-time world champion was running in the points before his late retirement due to suspension failure – but insisted the strong display was largely down to good fortune, and nothing to do with his car.

"I think we are last," Alonso said after the race. "That's the performance we have now.

"We were [running] 10th because the qualifying lap we had yesterday was extremely good [to take 13th on the grid].

"The start, I was lucky to gain one position and the [Romain] Grosjean retirement gave us the second one. I think in normal conditions in the normal circuit we should be last.

Fernando Alonso (foreground) was attempting to fight off the attentions of Force India's Esteban Ocon (background) when his car failed Credit: SRDJAN SUKI/EPA

Alonso, 35, has been left disillusioned at the beginning of his third season with the McLaren-Honda team, as pre-season testing brought up significant problems with the Japanese manufacturer's engine package.

There were hopes this winter that Honda had finally begun to catch up with peers Mercedes and Ferrari in developing the hybrid power units that have been used in Formula One since 2014.

But problems began on lap one of the first day of testing and Alonso is understood to be considering his position with the team.

Performances have become so dire that the famous marque is even being openly mocked in some quarters, with a website 'Has McLaren Broken Down?' having been set up during testing to provide fans with wry updates on the car's latest catastrophes.

Credit: hasmclarenbrokendown.com
Will McLaren soon be seeing the back of Fernando Alonso? Credit: SRDJAN SUKI/EPA

If Alonso could not give the car any credit for a positive show at the first round in Australia, he at least part-acknowledged his own role in hauling the car towards the points.

"[The race] was pretty good, I think. I was driving one of my best races so far. We were surprisingly in the points all the race long.

"A suspension failure I think at the end is what happened, and it stopped us finishing the race. Also we had to do a huge fuel-saving which was hurting us a lot, but we were able to keep the position.

Fernando Alonso is not suffering mediocrity in silence at McLaren-Honda Credit: SAEED KHAN/AFP

"As I said, a little surprised to be so [far] up, but at the end we didn't finish and definitely we need to be more competitive very soon."

Alonso at least ended the race in better shape than he did last year in Australia, when he was eliminated in an enormous crash that ruled him out of the following race with fractured ribs.

Who fired and who flopped at the Australian Grand Prix?

 

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