McLaren and Alonso falter with engine issue

Lewis Hamilton
AFP GETTYLewis Hamilton was not one of the fastest in testing but was still pleased with performance
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09 Marcha, 2018

It was Ferrari who managed to put in the quickest laps of winter testing, with both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen saving their best times for the last two days. McLaren in six days of testing has completed only 350 laps, 303 laps lesser than champions Mercedes. "Which is good for Formula 1 and also good for us as well to have some clear targets and someone always to push us forward to make us move forward".

Meanwhile, the other Renault-powered drivers did not experience any issues, suggesting that McLaren's continued problems are likely caused by the British team and not the French manufacturer...and that McLaren may not have been wholly free of responsibility for its issues with the Honda engine, which has been running superbly so far in 2018.

McLaren talked a good game in Barcelona but until Fernando Alonso's very late burst on the final day the on-track narrative was unsettling.

What must have been going through his mind when, in the interests of symmetry, he ground to a halt at turn seven of lap seven without setting a time? "As I said before, I prefer that happened here rather than in two weeks time". The programme was longer than 50 laps, but at the end of the day we discovered things since yesterday with Stoffel and today with myself.

Red Bull's best time on the hypersofts - Daniel Ricciardo's lap of 1:18.047 - was nearly a second shy of Ferrari's, but Thursday's cooler temperatures were more conducive to fast times. Hamilton ended up 0.353sec adrift on a 1m18.400s on Pirelli's ultrasoft compound, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking over for the afternoon and lapping a further 0.160sec slower on hypersofts.

After the repairs Alonso closed out the week with a mighty thrash only to see his lap record time of 1:16.720 erased after he cut a chicane. That was followed by a race simulation - albeit one interrupted by an extra pit stop - as Ferrari completed strong mileage but again failed to match Mercedes' long run pace.

Some of the blame might be Renault's, with Red Bull also suffering from a battery problem. "The pack has got closer and we believe we belong in the middle of that one".

Sebastian Vettel
GETTYSebastian Vettel played down his excellent lap times in testing

On track, the car looked skittish and the team admitted the FW41 struggled to generate heat into the softer tyres.

Brendon Hartley was third ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

"I think this is more or less normal in every new car", he added.

The team say they don't know where their stand but it would appear they will start the new season somewhere between seventh and ninth in the order.

The season proper gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on March 25.

Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing Director, thinks the reliability issues in testing are not a cause for concern.


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