A return of 44 points is Fernando Alonso’s best haul at this stage of the season since returning to McLaren in 2015, but back-to-back retirements have left the Spaniard concerned by the recent trend...
Of the 14 races so far this season, Alonso has failed to see the chequered flag on six occasions, with three of those coming in the last four rounds. Every race he has completed has seen him finish in the top eight, but the McLaren driver says the number of retirements have been hard to take.
“It is a shame because sometimes we were in the points like here," said Alonso, who is currently 11th in drivers' standings. "The reliability of the team seems to have made a step backwards. We definitely need to improve that for the remaining races.
“As long as it is not your fault, the digestion is a little bit easier. The reliability of the car is not in the best form at the moment and we need to improve that. I had six retirements this year, six mechanical problems, at least that.”
The Italian Grand Prix always looked like being a tough weekend for McLaren, given Monza is a low-downforce power circuit, but Alonso had reason to be optimistic after rising to 10th place in the opening stages and holding that position until limping back to the pits.
“Very early I started to feel some misfire on the engine, something was happening in Turns 7 and 8," he said. "We tried to solve it but it was not possible. The car switched off, and I came rolling to the pit lane. We were quite unlucky in the last two Grands Prix, especially even more [in Monza] as we were in the points.”
It’s not just the direct impact of the retirement in Italy that frustrates Alonso, who will leave F1 at the end of the year, with the 37-year-old saying he is likely to have a penalty later in the year having opted against taking a new power unit at the end of the European season.
“We’re going through an unlucky patch," he said. "In Spa we got hit, here we had a problem with the car in the first few laps, but the truth is that these were two circuits in which we wondered if we should take engine penalties and start from the back because we weren’t competitive but we did better than we expected.
“Here we were already up to 10th, into the points after five or six laps, so it was right not to change engine. But we had two early retirements in a row, so for sure we’ll have to change engine in one of the coming races, so after these two zero points there will be more to come.”
McLaren are sixth in the constructors' championship, but they are being hunted down by Force India, who are 20 behind having scored 32 in the last two races.