With reliability now looking under control at McLaren-Honda, Fernando Alonso believes the team can focus on gradually dialing in the performance of its power unit.
While McLaren did not get the sheer mileage the team expected during pre-season testing in Barcelona, the Woking outfit and its engine partner Honda did appear to harness the dreadful reliability issues which dogged its season last year.
Both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso enjoyed a good second week of work in Spain, gradually improving their McLaren’s strength and speed.
Speaking to media in Baku yesterday, as the Ambassador on this year’s European Grand Prix, Alonso is optimistic that McLaren-Honda is finally on its way to moving up the F1 grid.
“I think reliability will be a huge step forward,” said the Spaniard.
“We had to dramatically change some of the philosophy of the power dramatically to improve reliability.”
“In terms of performance, I think we need to still unlock a lot of performance in the engine because we ran, let’s say, a little bit conservative now to have the reliability.
“We need to push a little bit the limits. There’s always a balance – to push the limits and to finish the races. We will try to find it now, in the first couple of races.”
As it attempts to fine-tune that balance, Alonso is hoping that performance will hopefully blend into the forefront, step by step.
“I think at the beginning of the year it will be difficult – after winter testing, we still miss a little bit of performance.
“But the championship is very long – 21 races, 10 months. I am sure our developing will be quite high and I think a podium possibility will be possible – but we want more than that.
“We go step by step but to be world champion is the final target with the team and myself. This year it seems that that will be extremely difficult but, you know, next year or whenever it comes, we need to work with that target in mind.”
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