Alonso: McLaren could have best chassis by start of European season
Fernando Alonso believes that McLaren could have the best chassis on the Formula 1 grid by the start of the European season in May.
Alonso enjoyed his first run in the new McLaren-Honda MP4-31 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Tuesday, completing 119 laps en route to ninth position overall.
It was a far cry from the maiden outing of the Honda-powered McLaren in 2015, when Alonso was blighted by issues throughout testing that continued into the season.
Speaking after his first run on Tuesday, Alonso expressed his pride in McLaren and said that it was reasonable to target having the best chassis on the grid by the start of the European season.
"I’m very proud of the team, of what we achieved in the past couple of months," Alonso said.
"I think the target to have the best car, the best chassis, is reachable, is something very possible. Maybe by the European races or something like that, and motivation is very high. So who knows.
"There is not a magic solution or a crystal ball, but I would like to be competitive and to be fighting for something important. But honestly I don’t know."
Alonso said that he could notice an improvement in the Honda power unit and its deployment, but believed that this was to be expected anyway.
"Definitely yes, but this is let’s say an answer that I had no doubt," Alonso said when asked if he could feel an improvement.
"We could not have any doubts because the starting point of the power and the deficit we had last year compared to the top teams, it was just too high. We did improve all areas of the car.
"I think on the aerodynamic side there are some parts which are quite innovative and quite new in our car. The others had these ideas in the past but for us they are new. We need a little bit of time to mature the project, the package, and the power unit the same thing.
"For us last year was a lot of learning, a lot of pain, but we learned many things. Now with a completely new design and a completely new philosophy of power unit, we still need a little bit of time to understand and to explore the potential."