The challenges McLaren faced entering the Australian Grand Prix were like a two-ton heavy thing on their shoulders so a qualifying attempt at 13th and running 10th during the race was better than expected due to very low expectations.
On the surface, things didn’t seem quite as bad as they might have been…until Fernando Alonso retired his car due to a front wing issue causing the car to pull to the left. Fernando’s teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, finished 13th in the last classified position and the weekend turned into one to forget.
While reliability issues didn’t plague them as they did in testing—due to, perhaps, and all-new engine for Australia—the pace was seriously off from those around them.
“I was driving one of my best races so far and we were surprisingly in the points all race long,” Alonso told Sky F1.
“We are last in terms of performance. We were 10th because the qualifying lap yesterday was extremely good, at the start I managed to gain one position and then [Romain] Grosjean’s retirement gave us the other one.
“In normal conditions on a normal circuit we should be last and second last.
“We had to do a huge fuel-saving which was hurting us a lot but we managed to keep the position. It was a surprise to be so high but at the end we couldn’t finish and we need to be more competitive soon.”
Those are difficult words to hear and quite a contrast from his attempted positive energy in 2016. To be fair, the engine may have been off in sheer pace but the chassis was the reason he retired and Vandoorne didn’t even have a dash system that was working lending to an electrical issue.
Alonso’s career in F1 has been all about timing. The timing that brought two titles and the converse timing that has seen him miss several titles with difficult cars. It’s hard to see how much longer he will find F1 appealing and even though Honda say they will have an all-new engine in two-month’s time, it does make you wonder if Alonso will have the patience to wait.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1