FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

Fernando Alonso threatens to leave McLaren unless team starts winning

His comments echoed those of McLaren’s executive director, Zak Brown, who warned this week that time was running out for Honda after they failed to bring hoped for upgrades to Canada.

Alonso was equally unenamoured by suggestions that F1’s new owners would be increasing the number of races to 25 in a season, stating a position Lewis Hamilton said he agreed with. “I started when the calendar was 16 races, plus the tests, and now we keep increasing the races year after year,” said Alonso.

“We are in a number that is quite demanding already with the life you have between the preparation, the sponsor events, the tests, the commitments, plus 20 or 21 races. I think it’s already enough.

“I consider that a good quality of life is more important than more seasons in F1. If the calendar stays between 20 and 21 races, I would be happy to continue but it if increases it is not for me.”

Hamilton, meanwhile, has admitted he goes into this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix on the back foot against his world championship title rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. After two difficult races already this season, Hamilton acknowledged that his Mercedes team need to bring him up to speed quickly at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a track that shares traits with the others at which he has struggled.

Hamilton trails Vettel by 25 points in the standings but crucially in his attempt to win a fourth title Hamilton has struggled with his set-up twice this season and he and Mercedes need to identify the issues if he is to keep Vettel in sight.

“We have seen Ferrari are the quickest and that they are the favourites,” Hamilton said. “We are working hard to rectify the issues we had in the last race and hope we can attack this weekend. They have got some unique bits on the car which will work well this weekend but it doesn’t mean we can’t take the fight to them.”

He was off the pace all weekend in Russia, then at the last round in Monaco he could not hook up the car again and failed to make the final session of qualifying. Bringing the tyres into the right temperature for their operating window has been the major issue and it has been of greater import to Hamilton rather than his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Identifying and rectifying the problem before this weekend’s grand prix is paramount. The track itself is similar to Sochi and Monte Carlo, a low-abrasion, low-grip surface with short-duration corners and the tyre selection in Montreal is also the same, including the ultrasoft rubber, which has proved most troublesome for Hamilton. But he admitted that although he returned to the factory to work on the problem they would not be able to identify whether they have solved it until returning to the track.

“After the last race, there was a lot of information for the engineers to be working on but we didn’t have all the solutions and the answers at that point,” he said. “We have done some analysis but we will find whether or not there are new things we can improve on this weekend.”

The three-times world champion, who has won five times at the track, remained optimistic he could put in a good performance. “There are lots of opportunities for overtaking here, you can follow a little better than other circuits, it suits an aggressive driving style,” he said.