Fernando Alonso’s takeaway from last Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix is that McLaren has a winning engine in the back of its car, and now needs to bring its chassis up to the same standard.
Red Bull’s triumph in Shanghai, delivered by the intrepid Daniel Ricciardo, has brought Renault its first win of the 2018 season.
The Milton Keynes-based team was viewed as the perfect benchmark for McLaren, and while its performance is currently nowhere near its front-running rival, the team knows what it needs to improve to move forward.
F1i’s Driver Ratings for the Chinese GP
“It showed us the potential of the power unit and it gives us good motivation that with this power unit we will be able to fight if we do a good job on the chassis side,” Alonso said, commenting on Red Bull’s level of performance.
“We are not quite there yet. We need to close that gap and we need to work harder on the chassis side.
“We know that we have to improve, no doubts. We can’t hide that. But at the same time we are doing our job on Sundays and scoring as many points as possible for the team,” he added.
Indeed, the Spaniard has scored a top-ten finish in each of the first three races of the season. McLaren’s performance in qualifying however has not been stellar.
“I think on Sundays, for different reasons, we deliver the results, sometimes a little bit lucky, sometimes a good strategy, sometimes good pitstops. So far great Sundays,” he added.
“But as I said before, we need to keep improving the car. We are not quite yet in the top group. We saw a Renault power unit winning the race so that gives us good motivation as well.”
Alonso’s hopes of improvement may get a boost in Barcelona, where McLaren plans to introduce an updated version of its MCL33 according to racing director Eric Boullier, a car that should have initially been on the grid in Melbourne!
“The 2018 car is coming to Barcelona, and obviously we hope that’s the car we expect it to be,” he told Motorsport.com.
“The car we have now, is as per plan, it’s not that we missed the [performance] targets with it.
“But we missed the schedule targets with it, which means the car we’ll have in Barcelona should have been in Australia.
“So we are running actually with an evolution of last year, and not the new car. And this car hopefully will be the one that we expect.”
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