Tag Archives: Alonso

Alonso downplays Mercedes team mate problems

Fernando Alonso has downplayed the team orders saga at Mercedes, saying it won’t make any difference as either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg will eventually win the title.

The Spaniard said that it was good for the sport that the team has decided for now to let its drivers race.

“It’s something that is probably up to them, and only they know what is the situation inside the team,” said Alonso. “From the outside definitely they have enough advantage to do whatever they want, they will finish the championship first or second whatever they do.

“At the moment they are racing, I read that they will keep racing free, that’s good probably for the fans, for everyone, because the sport is about competition. If one day they need to police this, probably it’s also normal.

“At the end of the day there is one team principal, there is one owner, there is one president of a car company, that they want to see both cars on the podium, not both cars on the gravel. It’s something that as I said from the outside is not a big thing, or even on the inside is a big thing, because they will finish first and second in the championship anyway.”

When asked about being in the same situation himself Alonso joked that he never had a car that was a step ahead of the field: “I don’t think I ever had a car that is one second faster than everyone! So I don’t agree that I was in that situation, ever…

“With your team mate normally you have extra care, you have your bosses and your team waiting fort you in the garage. That’s something that you need to take a little bit more. Sometimes when you are that close and fighting for a championship, sometimes you forget that.

“It’s something that is inside any driver, inside the competition. I don’t think it’s a big thing. I know it’s a big thing for media, because the championship is terribly boring, and they are winning every race, and it’s good to talk. But I don’t think it will change anything for them, or anything for the championship. Life will still be the same after Austria.”

Alonso said that problems were inevitable.

“It’s something that will happen. They crashed in 2014 in Spa, and this has been going on and on, in Austin last year, in Suzuka, and some races, this year it’s Austria, maybe it’s Austin again in 10 races time. They’ve been three times World Champion [including 2016].

“Nothing will change, it’s normal. They are close, they don’t have battles with Red Bull, because they are 30 seconds ahead, they don’t have battles with Ferrari, because they are one minute ahead, they have battles with their team mate. Sometimes they crash, in 50 races they crash three times, it’s normal.”

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Vandoorne on standby pending Alonso medical check

McLaren has confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne is on standby to drive in the Chinese GP, pending an FIA medical check for Fernando Alonso on Thursday morning.

Vandoorne travelled to Shanghai on Tuesday, on the same plane as team boss Eric Boullier.

Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday,” said Boullier. “And until then we will be readying ourselves as normal. Fernando has been recuperating at home and training as usual, and we, like him, hope to see him back in the car. We’ll accept the outcome – whatever that may be – and plan accordingly.”

Meanwhile Alonso said: “It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team. While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.”

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Stoffel Vandoorne: “Things started to get a little bit hectic…”

Stoffel Vandoorne enjoyed a troublefree first day as a McLaren race driver in Bahrain, finishing FP2 in a solid 11th place.

Vandoorne only arrived in Bahrain this morning after an overnight flight from japan, but he’d used at least part of the flight to do some homework.

Eric [Boullier] called me a bit earlier this week that Fernando still had to pass the FIA tests,” said Vandoorne. “We booked a flight a day earlier just in case. In the end I got the call that I had to drive the race anyway.

I got the call yesterday evening when I was about to leave Japan. From then on things started to get a little bit hectic. I had a lot of calls with all the McLaren engineers, they sent me all the files I had to know with all the information about the steering wheel, operationally before and during the race, about what we can and cannot say, what we have to do. I’ve spent my time well on the plane. I think today went very well after a night’s sleep. Thinking about tomorrow, I feel very confident about it.”

Vandoorne was happy with progress: “It’s definitely been great. I wasn’t expect to drive this weekend, but in the end I’m very happy for this opportunity. First of all I’m gonna try and do as good a job as possible for the team. I feel 100 percent ready for this. I think today was a very good day for me. I haven’t driven this car before but I quickly felt comfortable in the car.

I progressed quite a lot through FP1 and quite a good feeling for FP2 as well. Most important for us was to do a lot of laps, we’ve done a lot of pitstops, practice starts, the operational stuff really. All those things I have to learn.

I know a lot of the guys around here, so it makes my life a little bit easier to go and work with them. It’s definitely never an ideal situation to just jump in the car without any testing but so far this Friday it’s been very good during both practice sessions, feeling more and more comfortable. I think tomorrow that progression is going to go forward.”

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Vandoorne gets his chance as Alonso ruled out

Fernando Alonso has been ruled out of the Bahrain GP as a result of injuries sustained in his Melbourne crash – and the former World Champion will be replaced by McLaren third driver Stoffel Vandoorne for the rest of the weekend.

Alonso complained of a swollen knee and sore ribs after the accident, and following an FIA medical examination in Bahrain today he was ruled out because of the latter. Last year he missed the Australian GP as a result of his Barcelona testing accident.

An FIA statement said: “Following an examination undertaken this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit Medical Centre, it has been decided that McLaren Honda F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso should not take part in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Two sets of chest CT scans were compared and it was decided on safety grounds that there was insufficient resolution of the signs to allow him to compete on safety grounds.”

It added: “A repeat chest scan has been requested before the Chinese Grand Prix and the results will be considered before allowing him to race there.”

Vandoorne was in Japan for a Super Formula test when he got the news that he will be racing this weekend, and he duly rushed to the airport. He said on Twitter: “About to board for Bahrain, a bit earlier than expected but so much looking forward to it! Will do my very best for the team.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I’m not here just to travel around the world…”

Fernando Alonso returned to McLaren-Honda duty in Barcelona on Tuesday, and the Spaniard enjoyed a trouble-free day as he logged a respectable total of 119 laps – in stark contrast to the form the team showed last year.

Alonso was in relaxed mood afterwards, and he made it clear that recent suggestions he might stop if the packaged was uncompetitive are wide of the mark.

However, he stressed that there is still much work to do for the team and its engine partner.

“It’s good to be back and good to complete a good number of laps which I missed last year,” he said. “We did seven laps the first day, 25 the second, 13 the third day, and then we went to Australia… I think by race five or race six we were still discovering little things on the car that were hurting us a lot in terms of points and in terms of performance during the year. That was the first priority for the team and for this winter, make sure that we went through the problems that we had last year.

“We put some solutions, and we did I think, at least on the reliability side. I’m proud of the team and proud of the job that everyone put together in this car. I enjoyed the day, but there is performance that we need to unlock in the car.

“Most of the work we did today were laps for aerodynamic study and laps for reliability study, temperatures, brake temperatures, water temperatures, many things that from a driver point of view were not very exciting, anyone can do those kinds of laps and those studies let’s say, and I’m looking forward to do some set-up change or some soft tyres or different fuels to really enjoy the driving as well.”

He was adamant that the power unit is better, but made it clear that it had to be, given its poor performance last year.

“Definitely yes, but this is let’s say an answer that we could not have any doubts, because the starting point or the power and deficit that we had last year compared to the top teams, it was just too high. We did improve all the areas of the car. I think on the aerodynamic side there are parts which are quite innovative and quite new, in our car, at least. Maybe the others had these ideas in the past, but for us they are quite new.

“We need a little bit of time to mature the project, the package. And in the power unit the same thing. For us last year there was a lot of learning, a lot of pain, but we learned many things, and now with a completely new design, or philosophy of power unit, we still need a little bit of time to understand and exploit the potential.”

Asked if the targets can he achieved Alonso said: “Honestly, I don’t know. There is not a crystal ball in F1 that you can bet or you can know more or less which direction the year will go after the first day of testing, or even after the two weeks of testing. I think we need to wait for Australia when we are all in the same conditions, with supersoft tyres and low fuel, same track conditions, and then we see. And even that I think we need to wait for two or three races to know for sure how the year will turn to you.

“Sitting here, or last week, in the factory, or even taking the plane to Australia, the ambition is very high. I’m not here just to travel around the world and jump in the car and have some fun on Sunday. I’m here to win. All the 22 drivers, they want the same, and for me it’s no different.”

Meanwhile Alonso joked about rumours that he will stop any time soon if the car is not competitive saying that with the long winter break there was a “dangerous tendency of being creative with the news. Asked if he will see out the season he said “of course, and the next one.”

Fernando did not want to comment on the Honda management changes, saying that he had only just found out about them.

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More power won’t spoil McLaren’s handling, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso insists that a lack of power is not masking any unexpected deficiencies in the McLaren chassis – in other words he expects its handling to remain consistent as the engine performance is ramped up in the coming weeks.

Both drivers have expressed their satisfaction with the MP4-30. Alonso noted yesterday that: “It’s a car that’s not too tricky, or it’s not picky, let’s say. It’s a car that gives you confidence, every lap you do you can push more and more, and it doesn’t make you any funny surprises.”

Some observers suspect that the chassis might not prove to be so user friendly as the power unit becomes more effective, but Alonso is confident that that won’t happen.

“No I don’t think so,” said Alonso. “I think we are aware of this problem, and we are making sure that the directions we go with the car are suitable with the power we have now, and the power that we may have.

“Maybe it will change some things, some braking performance, some downshifts, some traction problems or whatever that maybe with more power it raises a problem, but we are making sure we are ready when that day arrives.”

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Fernando Alonso: “The car is easy to drive…”

Fernando Alonso had a solid first day back in the McLaren Honda today in Malaysia as he logged 45 relatively troublefree laps.

He finished FP2 in 16th, a place ahead team mate Jenson Button, and the only drivers who were slower than the McLaren duo were Romain Grosjean, who did very few laps before he was sidelined by a technical issue, and the two Manor drivers. Nevertheless Alonso is pleased with progress.

“It felt great today in the car,” he said. “Finally after the gym, after the simulator, whatever you do it is never the same as the car, so I enjoyed so much driving here. The conditions obviously are extreme, very hot, and physically it is very demanding. I am not 100 per cent physically and fit after two weeks on the sofa, and two weeks of not in the car.

“It was really the second day of testing for me because I have one good day in Barcelona with 63 laps. and today 45. The rest of the days were seven laps, nine, eleven, so today I really enjoyed it. Definitely a step forward, a big step forward for us.

“It’s much better. The experience that we had in winter was a lot of problems, after four or five laps we stopped and we had to change something, but today we ran 45 laps with zero problems, everything went as we predict. We will see tomorrow in qualifying. We were I think 4.6s behind pole position in Australia, here could maybe be 3-3.5secs, so that is a 1 or 1.5s gain in two weeks, so it’s a big step forward.

Regarding the latest updates he said: “I think there are a lot of things going on in the car now. There are big steps on aerodynamics, a lot of understanding of the power unit, interaction between everything in the car. Every lap is a learning curve for us. In terms of driving, I felt great. The car is very consistent, the car is easy to drive, and it gives you confidence to push to the limit.

“We had some issues today on braking, with front and rear locking that was a little bit inconsistent, and we are looking at this. Hopefully tomorrow we can push more.”

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