Formula 1 testing: Fernando Alonso says McLaren issues under control
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso insists there is “nothing fundamentally wrong on the car” after the team suffered more problems in testing.
Alonso was delayed for nearly seven hours after his car broke down because of an oil leak.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the pace on day two of the final pre-season test in Barcelona.
“The issues we had are well under control,” said Alonso.
It was the latest in a series of reliability problems for the team.
Alonso managed less than a third of the laps done during the day by Ricciardo and the Mercedes and Renault drivers.
“From a team, point of view, we are more or less OK,” he added. “Unfortunately we keep discovering small things every day but it is putting us in a strong position for Australia in the way we are reinforcing [how to fix] all the small issues.”
Alonso did 47 laps in the morning before stopping out on track after just over two hours of the day’s running. The team said they would get him out later in the day – but managed to do so with only 13 minutes to go.
He was on track for only eight minutes before the day was brought to a premature end when rookie Charles Leclerc went off in the Sauber.
McLaren’s ongoing problems
Alonso’s problems made it the fourth of six days of pre-season testing so far on which McLaren have lost significant track time as a result of technical issues.
The team are hoping to be close to the front this season following their switch to Renault engines following three difficult years with Honda.
Alonso has one more day in the car on Thursday before the first race but he said: “We probably need the last day to do some laps and some long runs to check extra things you keep discovering about the new car but in terms of fundamental answers you need over the winter they are already OK.
“I don’t need the last day, to be honest. I will be in the car but if Australia was tomorrow it is OK.”
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier insisted the team were on track, and that they were simply suffering the sort of niggles that can be expected in pre-season.
“We are on top of this and it is a new partnership with Renault, new packaging, completely new packaging for the car as well. This is testing, give us time – it is fine,” Boullier said.
McLaren are not yet close to achieving the main ambition set by Boullier for this week of completing a race distance.
Alonso, who has said he expects his team to be able to challenge for podium positions this season, did set the fifth fastest time of the day, but he was using the ‘hyper-soft’ tyre and was 1.8secs behind Ricciardo’s pace-setting best on the same rubber.
Ricciardo edged out Hamilton by 0.353 seconds for fastest time, but the Mercedes was substantially quicker when the cars were on equivalent tyres.
Hamilton did not use the hyper-soft tyre, although his team-mate Valtteri Bottas did after taking over the Mercedes for the afternoon session, and was 0.6secs slower than Ricciardo on it.
Hamilton was 0.5secs quicker than Ricciardo on the ultra-soft tyre, and 0.8secs ahead on the medium tyre.
The times are not necessarily directly comparable because the fuel loads and engine modes being used by the car are not made public by the teams and can make a significant different to performance.
Ricciardo said it had been a “good day” and added: “The Mercs still look pretty quick. There are probably a few 10ths in the tyre and their qualifying mode will be a bit more than ours.
“I think they have still got a bit more on the rest but it is not too bad. We are looking pretty good – better than we were 12 months ago.”
The fastest Ferrari time was set by Sebastian Vettel, who was fourth overall with a 1:19.541 on the soft tyre, which all the drivers are saying is more or less the same in performance as the medium at Barcelona.
Carlos Sainz was sixth fastest in the factory Renault car – less than 0.2secs behind Alonso but using the medium tyre, which is well over a second slower than the hyper-soft.
Fast times on day two of the final pre-season test
1 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:18.047 ****
2 Lewis Hamilton (GB) Mercedes 1:18.400 ***
3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:18.560 ***
4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:19.541 *
5 Brendon Hartley (NZ) Toro Rosso-Honda 1:19.832 ****
6 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren-Renault 1:19.856 ****
7 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 1:20.042
8 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas-Ferrari 1:20.237 *
9 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:20.242 *
10 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams-Mercedes 1:20.349 *
11 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:20.758 **
12 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India-Mercedes 1:20.805 *
13Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber-Ferrari 1:20.919 **
14 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams-Mercedes 1:22.350 *
**** = time set on hyper-soft tyre; ** = super-soft tyre; * = soft; all others medium