Fernando Alonso has questioned the apparent success of the Honda engine during Formula One‘s pre-season testing even as the Japanese supplier expressed their pleasure at their budding partnership with Toro Rosso.
Honda infamously failed to provide Alonso’s McLaren with a reliable engine during their three-year partnership from 2015 to 2017, causing the British manufacturer to terminate their deal with Honda early and switch to Renault.
Ironically, the final week of testing ahead of the 2018 season saw McLaren-Renault struggle with engine issues, and they had to change their engine twice, while Toro Rosso-Honda got through the week using just the one engine.
But Alonso questioned the supposed success of Honda’s test.
“I have no problem with Honda,” he told Spanish radio Onda Cero. “They showed a good winter test, and if they finish in the top five, I’ll be glad.
“But I don’t think so. One test is not the same as 21 races with three engines.”
Meanwhile, despite McLaren’s struggles, Alonso said he has no complaints with the Renault engine.
“We are very happy with our work with Renault. Compared to last year, we are up to four seconds faster per lap,” he said, getting in another dig at Honda.
For their part, Honda seem to be happy having switched from supplying McLaren to Toro Rosso – whose senior team, Red Bull, remains a Renault customer along with McLaren.
Fernando Alonso believes he has gained vital experience for a future crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours after finishing 38th in the Daytona endurance race on Sunday.
The Spanish former Formula One world champion’s campaign in Florida was derailed by mechanical problems that included two brake failures in his United Autosports Ligier JS P217.
The 36-year-old admitted however he had been unnerved by the experience.
“You’re scared a little bit, no doubt,” Alonso said. “It happened two times in the first corner – you’re right there at 300-310 kilometres an hour then you hit the brakes and there’s no brakes.
“At night, you don’t see clearly the tire wall or the escape road, so there was even a little more of a scare.”
The McLaren driver took to the track in Florida this weekend to gain experience for racing Le Mans.
Only one other driver – Graham Hill – has successfully achieved that hat-trick. Alonso has two wins in Monaco, and impressed at the Indy500 on his debut last year.
Alonso, who posted the 13th fastest qualifying time in Daytona this weekend, said his experience in Florida would be invaluable when he eventually races in Le Mans.
“It is a positive feeling despite the issues and reliability. It was a very nice experience the whole event,” Alonso said.
“If and when I will be Le Mans, it will be the second time at least,” he added. “So I will be much more prepared for the practice, the race, driver changes, communication, driver preparation between the teams, how much rest you need to have.”
Alonso said last week his chances of racing in Le Mans this year are “50-50”.
McLaren have indicated Alonso will be free to race at Circuit de la Sarthe on June 16-17 should he wish to do so as it does not clash with his F1 commitments.
Fernando Alonso on Thursday said he’d give McLaren a chance to settle their plans before making a decision about his future – but warned that he wouldn’t stick around in a losing car.
The frustrated two-time world champion has been making noises all season about quitting the British team, who are widely expected to dump their misfiring Honda engines and go with Renault instead.
Alonso’s car has failed to complete six races this season, and his best finish so far is sixth. He said he had “many options” both inside and outside of Formula One, but added that “very good news is coming”.
“Whatever I do next year is because I want to win. I will not be around in any series to be fighting for top 10 or top 15,” he told reporters ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“There are many options out there that I’m looking at. Formula One is my first and only priority so I will wait to make a decision on that before making decisions on other series.
“At the same time I want to give time to my team. After the last three years, the struggles we went through together, to have time for them to make decisions, to see the future, next year’s car. And after they take decisions I will take mine.”
Alonso’s comments appear to hint that he will stay at McLaren next year if they axe Honda, which is strongly rumoured to happen before Sunday’s race.
Alonso, 36, is one of the oldest drivers on the grid, and he also hankers after becoming only the second man after Graham Hill to complete motorsport’s Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans.
GAME OF CHESS
Alonso last year skipped Monaco to race the Indy 500 but he seemed hopeful that he would contest the famous street grand prix next season.
“If I remain in Formula One it is because I can believe that I can win next year. So that will make the decision a lot easier because I will be in Monaco because I won’t want to lose any points,” he said.
“The priority is Formula One… and the Triple Crown is in the background. I’m waiting for my current team to make their decisions and after that, to negotiate.”
He added: “For my fans and for motorsport lovers, they will have a fantastic 2018 season. The plan is ongoing and very good news is coming.”
Alonso last month denied telling McLaren he’d quit if they don’t ditch Honda. Multiple reports say Honda will open a partnership with Toro Rosso, whose driver Carlos Sainz is tipped to join Renault as part of the deal.
Sainz said he couldn’t comment on the rumours but he added: “My ambition is to try and be a world champion one day. Whatever path there is, I will take the shortest path.”
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who has won two of his three drivers’ titles since leaving McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, said: “Formula One is like a game of chess.
“It’s really about picking your moves at the right time and hopefully you have enough options.”
“F1 is like a game of chess” 🤔
Care to explain, Lewis Hamilton… pic.twitter.com/Wxl4sKJVvC
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 14, 2017
Provided by AFP Sport