The realisation that Honda had made a backwards step ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season made Fernando Alonso feel humiliated, according to McLaren F1 Team’s Racing Director Eric Boullier.
Pre-season testing indicated that McLaren were in for a tough season last year, which was a big disappointment for everyone involved in the Woking-based squad, including Alonso, who was hoping the third year of the team’s partnership with Honda would bring them closer to the front of the field.
However this was not the case, and Alonso could only muster five top-ten finishes in 2017, with the team falling to ninth place in the constructors’ championship standings, but the early comprehension that the MCL32 was not going to be up front was hard for Alonso to take.
“As a competitor, he is making his mental preparation over the winter,” said Boullier to Motorsport.com. “And he is drawing in his head how the season should be, and that even motivates him more because he tries to stick to his own goals.
“So turning up in Barcelona, and having been backwards in terms of engine performance, it is a mix of sadness, humiliation and frustration. It is not good.”
Boullier believes that Alonso will take his driving to an even higher level should the 2018 McLaren be a frontrunner, and he knows he won’t give an inch to anyone on track if he senses blood.
“I always compare him to a shark,” said Boullier. “When he can sense the blood, he goes straight there. And that is why if he feels he can be on the podium or competitive enough to be there, he will not give up one inch to anybody.
“So the pressure on the team will be there, but it is a good pressure.”