Fernando Alonso has said that the McLaren F1 Team know where their “weaknesses” are in the MCL33 after bringing a heavily changed car to the Spanish Grand Prix.
Alonso managed eighth place at his home race – his fifth successive points finish in 2018 – keeping McLaren in the top five of the Constructors’ Championship. However, the Spaniard said that McLaren’s strategic choice to start on the super-soft tyres was almost ruined by the first lap chaos in the midfield, saying that at one point he felt that a top ten finish would be “impossible”.
“We started on the super-soft tyres today because of yesterday’s qualifying, so the plan was to gain some positions in the first couple of laps and then stop very early to change tyres,” Alonso explained.
“Instead, we found ourselves losing several positions in the first lap because of the incident at Turn 2, so at that point I thought it was impossible to get any points today.
“But, luckily, we had a good race, we had a good strategy with a good call for only one stop on the Medium tyres, and we took those four points.”
Alonso was vocal in his want for a change in conditions, the projected 80% chance of rain never materialised, and said that he spent more of the race watching the clouds as opposed to his fans in the grandstands.
“During the race, I was concentrating more on the sky than the cheering grandstands,” he laughed. “In some corners, there were very dark clouds. I thought maybe some rain could have helped us, but unfortunately it didn’t come in the end.”
The 36-year-old found himself camped behind the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team‘s Charles Leclerc for part of the race, the Monégasque rookie holding firm in just his fifth start. Alonso said that McLaren know that their package is still missing top speed – despite a change to Renault Sport power over the winter – and are working on a solution.
However, the double world champion understands that McLaren have made good progress through the season, and is hopeful that the upwards trajectory can continue for the rest of the year.
“It was difficult to overtake today – I was behind Leclerc for a long time – as we are still lacking some straight-line speed to be able to pass,” he said. “This is something we’re working on; we know where our car’s weaknesses lie and hopefully we’ll find a solution quite soon.”
“We made a good step forward here, but we know it’s going to be a tough battle until the end of the season. It’s important to score points every race and we have done so far for five consecutive races. I’m happy right now.”
Alonso will not take part in the in-season test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this week, with Stoffel Vandoorne, Lando Norris and Oliver Turvey sharing the running.