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Fernando Alonso Q&A: No repeat of McLaren's Suzuka form in Austin

21 Oct 2016

McLaren and power unit partner Honda had high hopes for the latter’s home race in Japan, but things didn’t go quite to plan, with the team failing to trouble the top ten. However, Fernando Alonso expects a much stronger showing this weekend in the Lone Star State…

Q: Fernando, are your hopes higher for the US Grand Prix than the result that McLaren-Honda had in Japan?

Fernando Alonso: Yes, I think our results should be better. If you look at the entire season so far, then we think Suzuka was rather a one-off, where we performed a little less than our expectations. We for sure should be a little bit more competitive here. The track in Suzuka had almost all the characteristics that did not suit our car, but for sure the last ten days we have analysed this and it was very intense research back at the factory. For sure we will keep on continuing to work on this year’s car, knowing that next year everything will change. Nevertheless we will translate all the information that we have gathered this year into next year’s project.

Q: The rumours are that Ferrari has approached Eric Boullier to replace Maurizio Arrivabene as team principal. If this is the case, what advice would you give him as somebody who has spent five years in Maranello?

FA: There are so many things in circulation, and not only about this situation. On Saturday Eric (Boullier) will meet the media and then you can ask him yourself. For sure I think that the team needs Eric, and I would like him to stay. But then again it might be a rumour only, and it would only be a waste of time to think about it too much.

Q: But it is no rumour that you will have a new team mate for next year. Are you already in close contact with Stoffel Vandoorne about how the collaboration in the team will be?

FA: Not really. And don’t forget that Stoffel (Vandoorne) has been in the team already for the past two years. So we don’t talk in details about how it should look like, it is just a natural continuation of our work. There are many occasions where Stoffel is with the team, such as the filming days, at the simulator and at the races. So I do not perceive him as a new guy coming to the team, so both him and Jenson (Button) are at the same level in terms of relationship. So both of us will work hard to help the team come forward and be more competitive; for sure we will work hard over the winter. We know we have only very limited days for testing before the first race, plus we have big changes in the regulations. We do need the maximum in professionalism and discipline in the first couple of months.

Q: What do you make of Nico Hulkenberg’s move to Renault?

FA: I think it is a very good decision from both sides. Nico needs a new challenge after being at Force India for a couple of years, and for me he is one of the most talented drivers, and to sign with one of the big manufacturers is a great opportunity to become world champion one day. Also for Renault it is a great chance to have one of the most talented drivers in the world.

Q: Having a look at this weekend: Turn 1 at this track is one of the highlights here. How would you describe the feeling?

FA: The uphill braking is very special, and there is a moment where you actually only see the sky. You don’t see the turning point and it is a bit of a guess. It is very hard to repeat the line two times in two laps and this is the real challenge for us.

Q: How do you like to race in the US and especially here in Texas?

FA: I love the US, and I think that this race is really well organised.  And even though Formula One is not so big here our fans that are coming to the track are really enthusiastic and passionate.