Fernando Alonso 'prepared for difficult weekend' in Melbourne
Fernando Alonso is under no illusions that he and McLaren face a "difficult weekend" at the season opening race in Melbourne, following eight days of testing which couldn't have been much worse for the Woking team.
McLaren were the ninth slowest team during testing and their best stint lasted just 11 laps before reliability troubles with their Honda power unit forced them to stop.
It's believed the Honda engine is causing vibrations which are literally shaking it apart, and although the Japanese manufacturer is working hard to remedy the problem, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has already admitted he's unsure as to whether they can even finish the first race.
Alonso, therefore, has prepared himself for a tough race weekend, but insists he's motivated for the season ahead and the challenge the new cars will present drivers.
"The start of a new season always gives us a range of feelings – great excitement to be racing again, and the sense of the unknown as we go into a formula with a brand-new set of regulations.
"I’m incredibly motivated for 2017 and I can’t wait to see what kind of racing this new shake-up of the sport will bring.
'We already know the sport is a lot more physical and the cars are more challenging to drive – from a driver’s point of view this is exactly what we were looking for in the new regulations, and I really hope this will translate to good battles on track."
Alonso says the teams aim this weekend will be to focus on improving reliability, rather than seeing where they stand against their rivals in terms of performance.
"After a difficult two weeks of testing we’re prepared to face a difficult weekend in Melbourne," he added.
"We’ll do our best with what we have and there’s a lot of hard work and collaboration happening within the team, but the lack of time before the first race means you have fewer options for big changes.
"The first step will be to work on reliability before we can make any assumptions or predictions about performance, and we will try to enjoy the weekend as much as we can."