Bri­tish squad tar­gets top­pling the Ital­ians on the streets of Monte Carlo

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook

Bosses of Mclaren-honda are confident the team can ri­val Fer­rari dur­ing this week­end’s Monaco Grand Prix as the team goes in search of its best re­sult of the cam­paign so far.

Mclaren’s Jen­son But­ton has scored in the last two races and team-mate Fer­nando Alonso was sixth in the Rus­sian Grand Prix.

The Mclaren driv­ers will rel­ish Monaco thanks to the track’s low-speed na­ture play­ing to the strengths of the MP4-31.

The tight cir­cuit favours teams with strong ba­sic chas­sis, rather than out­right power, and the track has proved a safe haven for Mclaren since its trou­bled re­union with Honda. But­ton nar­rowly missed mak­ing the fi­nal stage of qual­i­fy­ing at Monte Carlo last term and scored Mclaren-honda’s first points of the year with eighth place.

Mclaren is adamant that its chas­sis re­mains one of the best on the grid, with team head Eric Boul­lier in­sist­ing But­ton and Fer­nando Alonso are ca­pa­ble of chal­leng­ing the top six.

When asked where he thought the cars could be in Monaco, Boul­lier said: “On pa­per we could be be­tween six and eight.”

Then when quizzed on which cars he ex­pected to be ahead of Mclaren, Boul­lier sug­gested he ex­pected his team to at least match Fer­rari. “Red Bull, def­i­nitely, Toro Rosso, who have quite a good car, and Mercedes, but Fer­rari, not so sure. Not sure Fer­rari is a threat,” said Boul­lier.

“Last year we were third [best chas­sis], but close with Wil­liams and Fer­rari. Now it is Mercedes, Red Bull, our­selves, then Fer­rari, Toro Rosso and Wil­liams.”

But­ton heads into the race look­ing for his first hat-trick of points-scor­ing fin­ishes since 2014. He said: “I love Monaco, and the last cou­ple of years I’ve been on it. Q3 has to be the aim this year. Last year it was frus­trat­ing with a yel­low flag at turn one as I had to lift and lost the place.

“The way I drive and build up – in­stead of over­shoot­ing and then com­ing back – I think works for me.”

Alonso added: “We are get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, no doubt we are mak­ing steps with the pack­age. We are still miss­ing a bit of power from the power unit, but that’s not so im­por­tant at Monaco so we have the chance to de­liver.”

Honda has been work­ing to bridge the gap in power to Mercedes be­hind the scenes, with a B-spec en­gine planned for in­tro­duc­tion as early as this week­end or the fol­low­ing round in Canada (June 10-12). Both driv­ers have com­pleted three or more races on their cur­rent power units, and Honda will in­tro­duce up­grades around the move to their next al­lo­cated ones.

Honda motorsport head Yusuke Hasegawa said: “It’s pos­si­ble to in­tro­duce up­dates next week. I don’t want to waste [de­vel­op­ment] to­kens for a small up­grade so we need to de­cide when. In Monaco or Canada we will in­tro­duce a new en­gine.”

But­ton has form in Monaco and wants more points Boul­lier ex­pects

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