Fernando Alonso believes that the McLaren F1 Team was hampered by the compromises it took with its 2018 car.
After a promising start Alonso, team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne and McLaren fell away spectacularly last year, ending the season sixth in the Constructors’ Championship and struggling to get out of Qualifying 1. Another year of frustration prompted Alonso to take the decision to leave Formula 1 for the next year at least.
McLaren had entered 2018 hoping for better, having ended the tumultuous reconciliation with Honda at the end of 2017. Yet the move to Renault Sport customer power units came too late in the season and, consequently, the MCL33 was subjected to a number of compromises.
Alonso says that these compromises only yielded “downsides” for the team, but tagged the general reason for McLaren’s struggles as a “private thing”.
“We took some directions in this project that were not giving the results we were expecting,” he said to Motorsport.com.
“Some compromises were made in the car [but] a lot of hopes in performance were not coming. So, we only took the downside of those decisions.”
“I think next year should be much better and the lesson is taken.”
Come the summer, McLaren had identified the aerodynamic problem that had resulted in an increase in straightline drag but a decrease in downforce in the corners; plaguing its season.
The team even had to rebuild Vandoorne’s chassis after telemetry showed that its numbers were not consistent alongside Alonso’s car. The Belgian, now axed from his F1 race seat, voiced his ire at his home Grand Prix in August saying that McLaren “aren’t very quick at all”.
Recovery work focussed on 2019 has produced encouraging signs in Alonso’s view, tipping McLaren and its fresh driver line-up of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris to be more competitive.
“Since July we have been testing experimental parts for next year,” the Spaniard added. “There is a lot of optimism in the team with the direction the car took in the last couple of months.
“We know [in 2017] our car was very competitive on the chassis side – we have the GPS comparison, we know the speed in the corners. The car was very competitive in some areas and we lost that level of competitiveness [in 2018] unfortunately.
“We understood why, so I think next year the team will be in a much better position and I am happy for them.”