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Alonso: Honda development will help Canada prospects

10 Jun 2016

Fernando Alonso is optimistic that Honda's recent turbocharger improvements will give McLaren a boost on Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, where power and fuel economy are critical issues - and where the team really struggled last year.

While McLaren’s qualifying form has improved this season, they have still had a tough time in races, especially with the need to ‘coast and save’ at times on Sundays. Power deployment has also been a problem, though nowhere near as much as it was in 2015.

"It's a new turbo that will allow us more harvesting from the engine, so that's always a good thing," Alonso said of Honda’s latest upgrade, for which they have used two engine development tokens.

"It's not necessarily more power, but for a race situation it could help a little bit in terms of managing the battery, deploying longer on the straights. Not a big difference in qualifying, but hopefully for the race it will be an improvement. Everything is moving in the right direction, so it's definitely another step forward for us.”

However, both Alonso - who finished an encouraging 10th fastest in Friday’s opening practice in Canada - and team mate Jenson Button have been around long enough to know that nothing happens overnight when you are chasing a moving target in F1 racing.

"There's still a long way to go, especially in terms of power, which is the main limitation,” Alonso added. "In terms of MGU-H and harvesting we are not too bad this year compared to last year, so this is obviously welcome, another step in this direction, but there is still a long way to go.”

The Spaniard said that they are now in the position they had hoped to be in a year ago, but praised the development that Honda have done in that period.

"It's pretty amazing the job they have done in the last 12 months. We are now in a situation where we are able to compete, able to race with the others, and that's a positive thing. Remembering here last year the situation was quite bad. It was race seven of the year and we had quite a few problems in terms of power, pace, reliability and fuel consumption.

"After 12 months we arrive here with a very different situation, lacking still power, of course, and some other things we need to put in place, but we are in a much better position.

"Unfortunately we were hoping for what we have now last year, and this year maybe fighting for the championship, or wins, but it is the way it is. At least the team have the right reaction, the right input, everything is more logical, and we can be more optimistic for the future seeing what we have now."

Disappointed after the team’s showing of only fifth and ninth in Monaco where the team had genuinely hoped to match Ferrari on a track where handling beats horsepower, Button is resigned to a long haul before McLaren can really launch a significant challenge.

“I think it’s going to be a while before we are actually competitive enough to fight for big points, but we are making good progress,” he said yesterday. “People may think this is a circuit that won't suit our car, but it will be all right. We have come here with some upgrades which should help us. It’s not big. We are efficient in terms of our car, I know ExxonMobil are working hard with Honda on fuel, so we have an upgrade here that should help us in that area.

"From the inside we know where we are. We know we are improving and the atmosphere in the team is very good. It’s always very difficult because we are in a season where we want to get the best result we can, but with regulation change next year, it changes everything in terms of how much effort is put into that single season.

"I’m happy with the progress being made. We feel a lot of the time we are getting the maximum out of the car, which is the main thing right now. We’re quite a way off the pace but it will come, it will just take a bit of time - it just takes a bit longer than you want."