McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso believes the start of the 2017 season may still be a tricky time for the Woking based squad, but is confident they will start making bigger gains during the latter half of the year.
Speaking from the McLaren Technology Centre, at the launch on the MCL32 today, the Spaniard commented on how much the team has come on in the last year, an achievement they should all be proud of.
“I think there’s a lot to admire about what we’ve achieved over the past 12 months. Sure, the results haven’t really showcased it, but we’ve really made progress, and I think the whole team has gelled together through those difficult times.
“Now, at a moment of significant regulatory change, we need to capitalise on that period of uncertainty to push forwards – and I’m confident that we’ve got the expertise to do just that.”
On the new car itself, Alonso had plenty of praise for what he feels is a machine with great potential, and having now seen it in all its glory, the Spaniard cannot wait to get out on track to test it out for the first time.
“What I’ve seen of the MCL32 appears to be really promising – the new regulations seem to be well thought-out, and the cars look fast and aggressive.
“The look of the car makes me really want to get in the cockpit – I’ve lost none of that all-important hunger every Formula 1 driver needs. Training over the winter has gone well – I worked really hard – and I can’t wait to get going in the car as I say.”
There is no getting away from the fact that the Honda engine has been down on power compared to its competitors for the last two seasons, so McLaren could still find themselves behind the top order at the beginning of their campaign.
However, Alonso is confident that by the second half of the season they will have caught up their rivals, and can start putting in the sort of performances you would expect from a team of McLaren’s calibre.
“We still think the start of the season will be a challenge – we can’t ignore the fact that we’re still coming from a significant step behind the current front-runners – but I’d like to think we can target the second half of the year as a time when we’ll really be able to start making useful performance steps.
“The aim is to look respectable this year – and I’d like to think we can achieve that.”
With plenty of changes having taken place at McLaren ahead of the new season, this could well be the year we see them finally return to the podium.