Tag Archives: Alonso

Alonso on McLaren: “The mentality is very open”

Fernando Alonso says that McLaren is a very different team from the one that he left at the end of 2007 season.

The Spaniard stressed that there have been a lot of personnel changes, such as the arrival of Eric Boullier from Lotus and aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou from RBR.

“I think it’s different, it’s more open now,” he said when asked by this writer. “I’m different as well, I was 25 years old when I joined McLaren the first time, so definitely I’m different. We are now at the perfect time to rejoin, because we share some goals, and the team I think is now, with the arrival of Eric as well, much more open, and let’s say international.

“There are people working from many teams that joined McLaren this year, so the mentality is very open. The design of the car is quite different compared to the last couple of years, with the arrival of Peter as well. Honda, after 22 years coming back, so the whole team is believing in the project, and very excited to do well. The commitment is maximum from everyone, so that’s fantastic.”

Alonso also emphasised his belief in the potential of Honda.

“Definitely, I see a lot of potential. I’m delighted to work with the Honda guys, I saw from the first day they are about motor racing in general, it’s not just the F1 project. It’s just about the way they live, and the way they think.

“It’s just the culture. I’m a big fan of Japanese culture and they carry on that experience in life, and also for their work. They have a motor racing passion. I know that sooner or later we will deliver what we want to do. With Honda I really feel that if they want to do something, they will achieve it.”

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Eric Boullier: “You have to go through some pain and some glitches”

McLaren and Honda had a difficult first day with the MP4-30 in Jerez today, as Fernando Alonso logged only six laps – and did not set a representative time.

As at the Abu Dhabi test with the interim car last year Honda spent the day chasing electrical gremlins, mainly relating to a sensor.

“We have been quite extreme let’s say in packaging our car,” said the Frenchman. “And every technical solution which we brought to the car is something which we believe will help us to close the gap quite quickly with Mercedes. Being ambitious or brave doesn’t mean that we can be reliable. Obviously we are struggling with a few electrical issues, which are quite difficult again to fix.

“I think they are fixable, they could be fixed by tomorrow, but we may end up with some other issues somewhere else. I want to be a little but cautious on this because every time we try to fix one we open up something else further. We will get on top of this, I don’t know when, but obviously as soon as possible.”

Boullier said it was inevitable that there would be problems, despite some issues having cropped up already in Abu Dhabi.

“Simulation, dynos, whatever you want, you need the track to get the package all together and to work together. We have the car here, the 2015 car, and obviously you have to go through again some pain and some glitches to allow us to run. We obviously don’t want to take any risks either, because if you blow up the engine you can face something damaging the car and you can lose more time. We have only 12 days. We would have loved to run more today, but we have to go step-by-step.”

Regarding the car’s potential he said: “When we do more laps I will tell you, but based on simulation at least better than the end of last year.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I’ve never felt better or more ready…”

Alonso is raring to go in 2015...

Alonso is raring to go in 2015…

Fernando Alonso says he has “never felt better” ahead of a new season as he prepares for his return to McLaren.

The Spaniard acknowledges that there’s still a lot of learning to do.

“Although the winter period is a time for rest and relaxation from racing, my motivation could not be stronger for the new season,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of training during the winter break, to reach my peak physical fitness, and I’ve been working hard in preparation for this new era of McLaren-Honda. I’ve never felt better, or more ready for a new season.

“Of course, we’re prepared for a steep learning curve, but it’s clear to see that inside McLaren-Honda there’s total commitment, and a real change in feeling, as we start this new partnership. We’re all focused on the challenge ahead, and I feel extremely honoured to be part of a relationship that has shared so much history together. My aim is to help write a new chapter in the history of McLaren-Honda.

“We understand the effort and teamwork required to take McLaren-Honda back to where it should be, at the front of the grid, and all our energy as a team is focused on that goal.”
Alonso says he expects winter testing to be challenging for the new partnership.

“Our first target will be to learn the maximum from the car at the pre-season tests, understand the package, and extract as much performance as possible. That won’t be easy or trouble-free, but we’re ready for that. Why? Because our key focus will be on development.

“Historically, McLaren has already been characterised by its ability to bring updates to the car quickly, and develop a strong package. It’s going to be a real privilege to be the first person to drive the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 at Jerez, and I can’t wait to begin what I’m certain will be a very exciting new chapter in my career. I’m as motivated now as I was when I was given my first opportunity at the wheel of an F1 car.”

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Fernando Alonso on McLaren: “There is a very solid future…”

Fernando Alonso says he received some “tempting” offers over the past 12 months before committing to rejoin McLaren in 2015.

“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me,” he said. “Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long.

“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.”

Alonso is happy with what he’s seen of the new partnership, and confirmed that he has been to visit Honda in Japan.

“I have had in-depth discussions with all the senior people at both McLaren and Honda, I have viewed their fantastic facilities in both the UK and Japan, and it is clear to me that, together, McLaren and Honda are in the process of beginning what is sure to be a long and successful partnership. And I intend to give 100% effort to help make it exactly that.

“I want to thank the persistence of those who have fought so hard for this to come true. I will do everything in my power to deliver for everyone and for our team, based on a formula that has always worked for me: effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith.

“We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge.”
He also made it clear that the return of the McLaren-Honda name brings with it a little magic: “I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna, my favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference.

“I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with. That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula 1, McLaren-Honda, the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula 1 world championship.”


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Alonso and Button finally confirmed at McLaren

McLaren has finally confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will be the team’s race drivers in 2015.

The news comes after weeks of speculation about whether Button or Kevin Magnussen would retain their race seats alongside the Spaniard.

Alonso and Button were team mates at Renault in 2002 when the former was reserve driver. He was promoted to a race seat for 2003, and Jenson moved to BAR.

Magnussen continues on the role of test and reserve driver and clearly still has the opportunity to bounce back to a race seat – although he faces strong competition from Stoffel Vandoorne.

Among those to have raced in F1, dropped into a test role and returned to have a successful career are Alonso, Mika Hakkinen and Felipe Massa.


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Alonso forced to put his Le Mans dream on hold

Fernando Alonso looks unlikely to be able to squeeze the Le Mans 24 Hours into his 2015 schedule, despite trying hard to convince McLaren to grant permission for him to do the race.

Alonso attended this year’s 24 Hours and the recent Bahrain WEC event, and encouraged by friend Mark Webber he has been actively trying to find a seat – with Porsche his obvious target. The former World Champion was attracted by the idea of being the first F1 superstar in decades to try to fit the race into his regular schedule.

Nico Hulkenberg has been able to agree such an arrangement with Force India, but unsurprisingly for Alonso there are added contractual complications with McLaren and Honda. While the Japanese manufacturer is perhaps less concerned about its star driver appearing for Porsche, as opposed to a direct market rival such as Toyota, Nissan or Audi, McLaren’s own status as a supercar maker has complicated matters. There are also questions over clashes of partners such as Pirelli and Michelin.

Meanwhile confirmation of Alonso’s seat at McLaren is expected this week.


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We can fight for a podium, says Alonso

Fernando Alonso qualified in a familiar fifth place in Singapore, but the Ferrari star is in upbeat mood since in terms of time he was much closer to the front than usual – and he is confident of enjoying a good race.

Alonso, who was second in Q1 and third in Q3, was only 0.226s from pole man Lewis Hamilton in the final session.

“Normally in qualifying we lose ground,” he said. “But it didn’t happen today, we remained competitive also qualifying, two-tenths from pole position, which is quite a big news for us. I’m very happy, and hopefully tomorrow we have an opportunity to race with the leaders, something we are not used to do this year.”

Despite retiring in the last race Alonso is not worried about reliability: “No, not really. Obviously problems are always there, and we are at the limit in many things. But tomorrow is a demanding race, here in Singapore for the mechanical side it’s quite demanding, so we need to make sure we cross that line. If we do that I think the podium’s possible, because we have the pace, we have probably the good tyre degradation. If we do a good start, good strategy, we can be there.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I was completely on the limit today…”

Fernando Alonso insists that he extracted the maximum out of the Ferrari F14 T at Monza after landing seventh place, behind six Mercedes-powered cars.

Alonso was sixth on the speed trap list, and it’s clear that Ferrari has gone for less downforce than some rivals, and thus sacrificed some performance in the corners.

“It was a nice session for me, I think,” he said. “It’s difficult after the free practice, always we create some optimism because we seem to be always a little bit more competitive, probably we run different fuel loads compared to our opponents. In qualifying we know that they turn up the engine probably, and they are a little bit quicker than us normally, so we expect a tough qualifying. And it was a tough qualifying.

“But I was completely on the limit today. I had two runs in Q2 and two runs in Q3, and I did four identical lap times. They could put 100 sets of tyres and I would identical timed laps, so it was absolutely the maximum. It was positive for me because as I said see two Mercedes, two Williams, two McLarens, one Ferrari, two Red Bulls, so personally I think I struck the maximum. The important thing is to do tomorrow a good race.”

Regarding his prospects he said: “We need the points, we need to help the team, we need to give some satisfaction to our tifosi as well. Today we could not fight for pole position unfortunately, and tomorrow they will expect from us the maximum, and that maximum is to have a perfect race. We have to balance this, an attacking race plus finishing the race with good points to help the team, that is what they expect from us.”

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McLaren will hire “the best drivers available,” says Ron Dennis

Ron Dennis says he’s satisfied with the performance of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen in 2014, but confirms that McLaren is keeping its options open on future driver choice as it enters the Honda era.

The names of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have all been connected with the team, although in theory none are free until 2016 or even later.

Dennis was reminded that a few weeks ago he said that Jenson had to “try harder,” a remark that created something of a stir at the time.

“Anyone who has actually seen the TV interview in question will know that there was an element of humour in what I said,” he told the official F1 website. “Having said that, did I also intend to give Jenson a bit of a wake-up call? Yes, I did. But I did it softly, not maliciously. Indeed, perhaps the efficacy of my strategy was confirmed by the fact that Jenson immediately reacted by achieving his best race result of the year.

“Anyway, to tackle the specificity of your question, yes, I’m satisfied with both Jenson and Kevin. They’re both capable of winning Grands Prix in a competitive car – Jenson has proved that 15 times in his long Formula One career, and Kevin has already demonstrated abundant pace in his so-far-short Formula One career – but clearly we’re not giving them a competitive car at the moment.

“Nonetheless, despite that, I want them to give their best – and, at the same time, be responsible enough to appreciate that McLaren will always make efforts to hire the best drivers available. If such opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them; we always have and we always will. All great Formula One teams are the same in that regard. But we’re not in a position to do that at the moment.”

Asked about the possibility of attracting a marquee name such as Vettel or Alonso he added: “As I say, we’ll always look to employ the best drivers available – but they have to be available, don’t they? Having said that, for the avoidance of doubt, Jenson and Kevin represent an excellent blend of capable experience and youthful promise, and we’re very happy with both of them. The fact that we’re keeping an eye on what a few other drivers are up to in no way contradicts that, because, as I say, if opportunities arise, we’ll appraise them – we always have and we always will.”

Asked if any driver could be available in the right circumstances he said: “Well, that depends on whether you respect drivers’ contracts or not, and I do.”


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FIA made right calls on Vettel/Alonso fight, says Horner

Christian Horner says that the battle between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at Silverstone was a fair one, despite some controversy about how much of the run-off area they were using.

Both drivers complained on team radio about their rival exceeding track limits, something that the FIA had brought up before the race. Vettel eventually got past, and pulled away to claim fifth.

“It was two guys going at it hammer and tongs,” said Horner. “And it was great racing. The problem is they’ve introduced all these rules about circuit limits. They’re both professional, they’re both going to be pointing out the errors of the other. At the end of the day it was great racing. Sebastian made a massive move.

“It was on the limit, but it was racing, firm racing. Seb made his move stick, and he was very, very brave. Fernando is the type of driver that you can go wheel to wheel with like that, and he’ll just about give you the space, but no more.”

Both drivers received warnings from the FIA about exceeding track limits.

“They were both on the limit. It was six of one and half a dozen of the other. It would be wrong to penalise one of them. Fernando was benefiting at Turns 9 and 18 constantly, which Sebastian was quick to point out. And Sebastian was doing whatever he could to try and pass him.

“Charlie [Whiting] pointed out a couple of times track limits to Seb, and Alonso got a warning flag, which was for track limits. The problem is when you’ve got run-off like that, and it’s quicker, drivers are going to want to abuse it.”

Horner said that the FIA made the right calls: “I think that we’ve just made a move to allow a bit more freedom to allow the guys to race. I think that’s a good thing. The problem is there have got to be rules, but where’s the line? And you’ve got to give the stewards a degree of freedom to make sensible decisions.”


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