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Fernando Alonso Q&A: We want to leave here on Sunday with some answers

19 Jun 2015

McLaren came to Austria with a wide-ranging update package for Fernando Alonso’s car, but sadly for the Woking team a range of technical issues on Friday meant they were unable to properly evaluate them - a bitter blow for the Spaniard considering he was already facing a 20-place grid penalty for a change of engine. At the end of another difficult day, Alonso spoke to reporters about how he now plans to approach the rest of the weekend…

Q: Fernando, it looked like another tough day for you. Is that impression correct?

Fernando Alonso: I always said that this will be another tough weekend for us as the track very likely doesn’t suit our car, but we are introducing some new parts so it is much too early to say whether they deliver or not. As these are new parts of the engine we will get a twenty - you hear: twenty – place [grid] penalty. We have to deal with that, no doubt. For sure we want to leave on Sunday with some answers about the development of the car and probably the progress that we are making here.

Q: Can you talk us through your two sessions?

FA: For sure we have lost quite a lot of time in practice here. In FP1 we had some electrical issues with some connector, and then of top of that also some software problems that meant we were not able to leave the garage. In FP2 we stopped as a precaution because of Jenson having problems with a plug. As we have new engines fitted to the car for this race, we decided to run safe today and investigate all the problems to have no issues for tomorrow. We have lost valuable time though, as we need some laps to understand the new aero package and to optimize the performance of the car, as you need to make changes to the suspension and the brake balance to meet the new aero philosophy. Hopefully we can recover this lost time tomorrow, but luckily there is still a little bit of time ahead, so that we can work on all these things. Technology is so complex these days, and there are little things that can stop a Formula One car from running. Also there might be just one little number wrong in the software, which prevents the car from getting into the first gear and you end up sitting in the garage until you discover this mistake.

Q: How do you feel about the fact that on top of the technical problems the team has to deal with, you’ll start Sunday’s race with a twenty-place grid penalty?

FA: For sure it is quite a big disappointment to have such a big penalty before you even start the weekend. But then again we already knew back in the factory that we would have to face some kind of penalty, so we have set the goals accordingly to understand the new aero package and have clear answers on the direction [to go in] when we finish racing this weekend. Unfortunately we have to sacrifice this weekend and make it a test, and for sure there will be more weekends to come for the rest of the season. Nevertheless we will learn a lot of things that will be very useful.

Q: Can you pinpoint what it is that you are missing most in your car?
We have to be faster - and that is something that we are not achieving so fast. But there are also other things that we need to improve like aerodynamics - and I hope in the course of the weekend we will see improvements there.

Q: Have the McLaren hierarchy said to Honda: ‘come on guys, let’s start to do some serious Formula One business’?
I think Honda is doing the maximum they can. They are working flat out. But unfortunately in F1 you don’t find answers in the short term. You are part of a development cycle. Maybe the project was started a bit late - and now we have to recover as fast as we can.

Q: If you look at your career, would you say that you’ve always been at the right place at the right time? Are there any regrets?
No, not really! In the last ten years I’ve been fighting for the title six times until the last race. Am I sad about this? That would be very unfair with all the other drivers in the paddock. I am more or less in the right place at the right time because I have been lucky to win many things - so it is not for me to complain. Being happy might be another thing. But I am sure that we will raise our game.