For­mer champ de­mands a more com­pet­i­tive car

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TWO-TIME For­mula One world cham­pion Fer­nando Alonso ruled out re­tir­ing un­til he is handed a com­pet­i­tive car as his be­lea­guered McLaren-Honda suf­fered more re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems to end pre-sea­son test­ing on Fri­day.

The Spa­niard broke down twice as elec­tri­cal faults again re­stricted his run­ning to just 43 laps and the 11th fastest time of 13 driv­ers.

Alonso’s con­tract with McLaren ex­pires at the end of the sea­son.

“I want vic­to­ries and podi­ums and if it all goes wrong, I will at­tack next year,” Alonso, 35, told re­porters.

“It will give me more mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue. I will not stop driv­ing with­out a good re­sult, which I think is what I de­serve.”

McLaren fin­ished bot­tom of the pad­dock in terms of laps com­pleted from the eight days of test­ing at Barcelona’s Cir­cuit de Catalunya.

“We have only one prob­lem which is the power unit,” added Alonso.

“There is no re­li­a­bil­ity and there is no power. We are 30 kilo­me­tres (per hour) down on the straight.”

Alonso’s crit­i­cism backed up McLaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier ’s claim on Wed­nes­day that Honda are “un­der max­i­mum pres­sure” to come up with so­lu­tions to their con­tin­ued re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems.

At the other end of the field, the likes of Kimi Raikko­nen, Se­bas­tian Vettel, Lewis Hamil­ton and Val­terri Bot­tas were blitz­ing the times set in re­cent years for Mercedes and Ferrari.

A se­ries of new reg­u­la­tions for the 2017 sea­son was ex­pected to see McLaren re­assert them­selves as a con­tender af­ter fail­ing to win a Grand Prix since 2012.

“This year is more frus­trat­ing be­cause you have high hopes due to the change or rules and you think you can cut the gap.”

Alonso, world cham­pion in 2005 and 2006, claimed he still feels he is a bet­ter driver than the likes of Hamil­ton and Vettel.

“I feel the fastest driver out there, so I just need an en­gine that can run as fast as the oth­ers on the straight.”

Alonso’s stance heaps ex­tra pres­sure onto the re­la­tion­ship be­tween McLaren and en­gine sup­pli­ers Honda ahead of the sea­son open­ing Grand Prix in Mel­bourne on March 26.

The pair­ing was in­tended to bring back a glory pe­riod when they won eight world cham­pi­onships to­gether be­tween the late eight­ies and early nineties when they re­united in 2015.

In­stead, Honda has been un­able to de­liver an en­gine ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing at the front of the grid.

McLaren ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Zak Brown, though, has re­jected rumours that the Bri­tish team could look to break ties with the Japanese man­u­fac­turer.

“We have a long-term con­tract,” he told Sky Sports.

“We have won a lot of cham­pi­onships with them, they have the right peo­ple, we have the right peo­ple, so we are go­ing to work through it to­gether.”

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