Unreliable McLaren frustrating for Alonso

BARCELONA • Fernando Alonso spoke of his sadness and disappointment on Monday after his McLaren once again let him down on the first day of Formula One's pre-season testing in front of his home fans.

There was doubtless a fair amount of anger and frustration bubbling away as well, although the two-time world champion managed to keep a lid on that in front of the assembled media at least.

"He was not very happy this morning," said racing director Eric Boullier, diplomatically.

While Sebastian Vettel, the four-time champion who replaced him at Ferrari in 2015, managed 128 laps, Alonso's work report for the day consisted of 29 laps and one untimed lap before lunch.

Champions Mercedes managed 152 laps between their two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

McLaren's engine partner Honda blamed an oil system problem.

The team have not won a race since 2012 and the last two seasons, the first of a renewed relationship with the Japanese carmakers, have been fraught with underperformance and unreliability.

"It's definitely not a perfect start of the winter testing," said Alonso, who is out of contract at the end of the season and said last week that he was approached by Mercedes after world champion Nico Rosberg retired suddenly in December.

"We are disappointed, we are sad to arrive to the first day and not be able to run. We know and are aware of the time we lost today, we have four days for each driver before the world championship starts and now one day is gone.

"So I have three days to prepare (for) a world championship. It's not an ideal situation."

Monday was reminiscent of Jerez in 2015, when the Spaniard completed just six laps.

The new McLaren ran without problems on a limited-mileage filming day on Sunday, using demonstration tyres, and Alonso said it looked better and had far more downforce than in previous years.

He said the cars were clearly much faster through the corners and was happy he would be able to push the McLaren to the limit far more than before.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'Unreliable McLaren frustrating for Alonso'. Print Edition | Subscribe