Alonso insists McLaren ready for F1 opener despite reliability woes

Fernando Alonso says he feels prepared for the 2018 Formula 1 world championship season opener and could race tomorrow if required despite losing the majority of his penultimate testing day due to an oil leak with his McLaren.The two-time F1 world champion completed 46 laps before an oil leak forced him to stop on track at Turn 7 two hours into the day’s track action.

McLaren mechanics diagnosed the problem as an oil leak from the Renault-powered MCL33 which triggered the team’s first complete engine change while track action was ongoing. Despite a predicted three-hour change, Alonso returned to the circuit over six hours later with just 13 minutes of testing time left.

Alonso has played down the lack of running McLaren has experienced during pre-season testing, after Stoffel Vandoorne suffered two battery issues and a hydraulics failure yesterday, and feels his team has the fundamentals in place ahead of the 2018 opening race.

“I will be in the car [on Friday], I will drive – hopefully we will keep discovering new things on the car – but if Australia was tomorrow it’s okay,” Alonso said. “Probably we need the last day to do some laps, some long runs, to check extra things that you always discover about the new car.

But in terms of fundamental answers that we need over the winter test, they are already okay and we have all of them, so I don’t need the last day to be honest.”

Alonso accepts he needs to catch-up on long run testing at Circuit de Catalunya but is content with the progress McLaren has made at the start of its new power unit partnership with Renault. The Woking-based squad signed a new three-year engine deal with Renault at the end of 2017 after splitting from Honda after three seasons of unreliable and underperforming power units.

“All the important things in the programme we managed to do in the morning, so the rest of the day was going to be about long runs,” he said. “I am not too stressed about the laps we lost today.”

Source: Story and image: